As spring arrives on Gardam Street, there are surprises in store for each Penderwick, from neighbor Nick Geiger's expected return from the war to Batty's new dog-walking business, but her plans to use her profits to surprise her family on her eleventh birthday go astray.
Original publication date
I can easily wax rhapsodic over the Penderwicks series, which manages to feel both modern and nostalgic. I was a little sad to learn that this book skipped forward several years, but the charms of the younger Penderwicks soon dispelled my melancholy. And one of the benefits of the fast-forward is that this book stands well on its own -- readers who have not yet enjoyed the first three books in the series can start here and not feel like they are missing too much, I think. Of course, why would you want to do so, when the whole series is such a treat? This fourth book achieves more depth than its predecessors, while still managing to be funny and delightful and sweet but not cloying. This may be the best book in an already excellent series. I'll be crossing my fingers for it when awards season rolls around.
Batty is very conscious of her place as the oldest of the younger set and now that she's in fifth grade, she understands and internalizes the worries of the adults. Money is as tight as ever and rather than add to that concern, when Batty, who is quite musical and has developed a very pretty voice, wants voice lessons she decides to find a job to pay for them herself, creating Penderwick Willing to Work. But the work that comes her way is work she does not want; it's dog walking. When the novel opens, Hound has been gone for six months and Batty is certain that it is her fault he died. So dog walking makes her nervous for her charges' welfare and makes her desperately miss the wonderful Hound. This would be enough for any sensitive child but added to that is the fact that Jeffrey, the friend the girls made in the first book and Batty's dear friend in particular and musical mentor, is not coming around much because of complications in his Penderwick relationship. Then Batty overhears a terrible secret not meant for her ears that utterly devastates her and this once happy go lucky little girl is not so happy go lucky anymore.
The Penderwick family is as delightful as ever. The problems that beset them are universal and yet grounded firmly in the here and now. The entire feel of the book is charming and Birdsall manages to capture the innocence and worries of childhood without minimizing them at all. The book is brimming with emotion and reading about Hound's death and how Batty handles it will make even the hardest hearted reader sob. Each of the characters, even those who are only one the page for a brief time, are well drawn and complete characters. As always, I wanted to just crawl into the pages and live with the Penderwicks myself.
This was a
Some authors have a gift for portraying a child at a certain age, capturing the exact feelings and hardships of that age in such a way that both a child and adult can understand but not making fun or being sly about it. Beverly Cleary was that author for me when I was Ramona's age, and Jeanne Birdsall is much in the same vein. She captures Batty's ups and downs, sibling interactions, family life and misunderstandings in such a real way. I cheered and I cried and I enjoyed every minute of Susan Deneker's reading of the audio version. Highly recommended - but definitely start with the first in the series and go from there.
To be more specific without getting spoiler-y, I can buy that these girls would have some residual stuff to cope with from their mother's death, especially as they approach adulthood, but I don't buy that Skye's misunderstanding persisted into late teenage-hood, and I don't buy that the acting-out would be so closely and obviously linked to their mother's death. And I used the hiding in the closet thing in a novel I wrote when I was in eighth grade. I'm not saying The Penderwicks in Spring is anywhere near as horrible as that novel was, but my estimation of it is diminished because of the association.
Still, I had fun reading this to my kids, and they couldn't wait to hear the next chapter, so I'm guessing we'll be first in line for the next book in the series.
The family is
The story belongs to 5th grader Batty - her struggles with book report assignments, the banishment (by Skye) of Batty’s friend and musical mentor, Jeffrey, her love of music and newly discovered singing skills, worry for Nick (deployed in the war), Batty’s despair over the death of Hound, her dog-walking troubles, sister trouble, and an overheard conversation of Skye’s. Whew! Lots going on here and that is just one character.
The book is timeless, in that the family could be from the early 1900s or 2015. The situations, the dialog, the emotions, the coming-of-age themes, family inter relationships - I am in love with these characters.
The books felt so familiar to me and I have to agree with one reviewer that the books reminded me of an Elizabeth Enright series about the Melendy Family. (that I read as a girl) I would also refer readers to inter relationships from Louisa May Alcott’s LITTLE WOMEN and Maud Hart Lovelace’s BETSY-TACY series of books.
Thank you, Ms. Birdsall. These books are a delight to read. The stories resonate with all ages.
This was a good book, but as it is a part of a series, I felt a little lost at times with the excess of supporting story information. If I were 20 years younger, I would read the entire series, and probably love them all. I did enjoy this one, but it was very long and nothing really happened
Neither of the girls wanted to read this because they can't bear to think of their beloved Penderwicks growing up and moving on. They want Batty to remain four forever, in her wings, with Hound. I understand the inclination, although I don't share it. That children grow up and face new
The Penderwicks in Spring is very much Batty's book. While earlier volumes tossed the focus back and forth from one sister to the next, this one is entirely about Batty, while her siblings, parents, Jeffrey and Nick all play supporting roles.
There was a copious amount of Birdsall's trademark humor, but there were also tears shed in this one. Towards the last third of the book, Batty suffers a serious emotional blow, and it hit me hard too. My only criticism of this book: the impact from that emotional blow was resolved a bit too easily. I don't think the issue - an overheard conversation - would have been settled so completely or so readily.
As with the other books, highly recommended. But they should be read in order. Start with The Penderwicks and work your way through.
After loving the first two books about this family, and enjoying (but not loving) the third, I approached The Penderwicks in Spring with some trepidation, hoping it would herald a return to the earlier books, in terms of my engagement. Although not quite like those earlier books in tone or theme, it ended up eclipsing them altogether, when it came to my emotional involvement and eventual enjoyment. The crisis that Batty faces felt entirely real and realistic to me - it is something (the death of the girls' mother) that had always been there in the story, but had never been fully explored, and it made sense that it would be Batty who eventually brought it to the fore. Although Skye's words were cruel, her feelings too, in