The Penderwicks in Spring

by Jeanne Birdsall

Paperback, 2016





Yearling (2016), Edition: Dgs, 368 pages


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 language


Original publication date


Physical description

368 p.; 7.63 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member foggidawn
Just like that, the three older Penderwick sisters are teenagers, and the focus shifts to Batty, Ben, and Lydia, the younger Penderwicks -- but mostly Batty. No longer a charming toddler wearing butterfly wings, Batty is now a fifth grader, with increasingly complex problems of her own. Six months
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after the death of Hound Penderwick, the best dog ever, Batty still grieves and still believes that it was somehow her fault, despite the reassurances of her family and the vet. And despite the reassurances of her parents, Batty can't help but worry over the family finances, strained by supporting the grocery habits of Jane and Skye's friends, not to mention Rosalind's college tuition. Batty knows it's a bad time to ask for anything expensive, but she has a wonderful secret: her voice has suddenly developed a smooth, mature tone, and the new music teacher at school is encouraging her to get voice lessons. Maybe she can find a way to earn some money on her own? She'd love to talk the matter over with Jeffrey, an honorary Penderwick himself and Batty's mentor in all things musical (since the rest of the family can't carry a tune in a bucket), but Jeffrey's relationship with Skye has gone all prickly and difficult, so he's not likely to be found around the Penderwick household very much any more. And then, just when things seem to be going extraordinarily well, with a visit from both Rosalind and Jeffrey in the offing, Batty learns a devastating secret that threatens to destroy her emotional stability. Who can she talk to about this dreadful thing?

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.
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LibraryThing member whitreidtan
If you haven't already met the Penderwicks, you are missing out. Jeanne Birdsall has managed to write a children's middle grade book series that is both current and sweetly harks back to the gentle and lovely books of a half a century or more ago. Her latest book, The Penderwicks in Spring, is the
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fourth and penultimate in the series and has a slightly different focus than the first three. The central characters are no longer the older Penderwick girls: Rosalind is off at college, and Skye and Jane are teenagers in their final years of high school. Batty, the youngest Penderwick, the one who used to tag along after her older sisters wearing butterfly wings and accompanied by her faithful dog Hound, is now the oldest of the younger Penderwicks what with her father having remarried, bringing brother Ben into the family and then adding yet another Penderwick girl, toddler extraordinaire, the engaging Lydia.

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.
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LibraryThing member hawaiianmermaid701
This is one of my favorite series, and I'm happy that the characters grow as I do. This book had me enthralled from the first chapter and laughing, crying, and laughing so hard I started to cry again. The Penderwicks have always made me feel at home in their family and they still do.

This was a
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great book and a wonderful addition to the series. I highly recommend them all.
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LibraryThing member bell7
The latest entry in the Penderwicks focuses on Batty, now ten-almost-eleven, an age which is not always easy. She's not only in-between her oldest sisters - Rosalind in college, Skye and Jane teenagers - and the youngest Penderwicks - brother Ben who is eight and loves digging up rocks and toddler
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Lydia who's just getting old enough to climb out of her crib and cause havoc. She's also dealing with the loss of her beloved Hound, who she knows wouldn't have died if only she could love him enough.

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.
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LibraryThing member ImperfectCJ
There are some things I just can't understand about myself. Like how I can't seem to stop eating potato chips until the bag is empty, no matter how big the bag or how un-hungry I am when I start, and how I can watch a movie or read a book and see clearly that I'm being emotionally manipulated and
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yet I still cry. That's pretty much what happened to me with this book. I found Batty's dilemma pretty unlikely and yet still I bawled while reading this aloud to my kids. They just stared at me, and I could tell they were just wishing I'd either cry or try to speak but not attempt both at the same time.

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.
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LibraryThing member diana.hauser
THE PENDERWICKS IN SPRING is Jeanne Birdsall’s 4th Penderwick book. It is just as delightful as the first 3 - perhaps even more so. One can feel and smell the freshness in the air, the first daffodil (in Mrs. Geiger’s yard), purple hyacinths and crocuses, and melting piles of snow.
The family is
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a blended family of 8 - Mr. Martin Penderwick, Mrs. Iantha Penderwick, Iantha’s son, Ben, Martin and Iantha’s daughter, Lydia, and the Penderwick sisters - Rosalind (off to college now), Skye, Jane and Batty.
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.
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LibraryThing member kitsunek8
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
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until about 2/3 into the book. However, I thought it expressed the themes of family, trust, and honesty very well, and would be a great book to help kids deal with loss and grief.
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LibraryThing member Kaethe
2 May 2015

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
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situations is a good thing. We experience loss, we grieve, we move on; this is what it is to be human. Or maybe I'm just heartless. Well, not entirely. I did in fact laugh aloud at points, and I cried a little, very quietly. Growing up is hard for kids and parents, but sometimes it is lovely, and marvelous new things come out of it. Soon to join the others on my Beloved shelf.

Library copy
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LibraryThing member fingerpost
The first three Penderwicks books all took place fairly close together. I loved Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty. At the end, there was infant Ben, but he was just a baby. And at the end, Rosalind was out of the picture for much of the third volume as well. But with The Penderwicks in Spring,
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approximately five years have passed. Batty is now in 5th grade, Ben is now 5, and there is yet another Penderwick sister, Lydia, who is a toddler. And with this volume, Rosalind, Skye and Jane are all three largely out of the picture (though Skye plays a crucial role in the plot all the same). I missed them. Just as I love my my own daughters (11 & 13 as I write this) so much... I still miss the little girls they once were, but will never be again. Similarly, as an adult reader and a parent, I was sad to see some of these beloved characters grow up.
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.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
The Penderwicks return in this fourth novel devoted to their adventures, which is told largely from Batty's perspective (although there are a few chapters featuring Ben's point of view), and which grapples with more serious issues than its predecessors. Some time has passed since the various
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holidays taken in The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, and Batty is now a middle schooler, and the senior member of the younger Penderwicks, including herself, Ben (a baby in previous books, but now a second-grader), and the newest addition to the family, in the form of two-year-old Lydia. Oldest sister Rosalind is now a freshman at college, and Skye and Jane are high-schoolers. As Batty looks forward to her eleventh birthday celebration, which will bring all of her loved ones together again - Rosalind home from college, Jeffrey from his music school in Boston, and next-door-neighbor Nick Geiger back from war in the Middle East - she makes two earth-shattering discoveries. The first is that she has both a gift for and a love of singing, which she hopes to use to surprise her family at the upcoming celebration. The second, in the form of an overheard conversation, is that she was the cause of her birth mother's death. This latter throws her into a terrible state of grief, reinforcing her conviction that she was also somehow responsible for her beloved dog Hound's death, and sending her into a state of deep despair. The resolution of this crisis forms the conclusion of the tale...

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 blaming Batty for Mrs. Penderwick's death were understandable too, although I wasn't sure what to make of her confession that she had never much liked Batty, as this felt somehow out of keeping with earlier developments in the series. That particular scene would have been more believable if Skye had mentioned resenting Batty, but also loving her, which I think is closer to the truth. Whatever the case may be, I found the story here absolutely gripping, and was choking up on more than one occasion as I read. The happy ending (of course!) was all the more welcome, given the truly serious issues of loss and grief raised in the story. As with the previous books, I had no sooner finished this, than I was reaching for the fifth (and final) Penderwicks story, The Penderwicks at Last.
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LibraryThing member amandabock
Another satisfying Penderwick adventure. I do wish some of the characters weren't aging out of the stories quite so quickly.
LibraryThing member deslivres5
Penderwicks are at it again. This one takes place about 5 years after the last installment. Fun to check in on the family and neighbors after another large time jump. Focused mainly on Batty, there are some tough issues touched upon here, mostly about grief.
LibraryThing member tsmom1219
I so love this series and hope with all my heart that the Penderwicks have many more adventures.
LibraryThing member fuzzi
Five years have passed since the last time we visited with the Penderwicks. There have been some changes, additions and subtractions from the family, but they're still all Penderwicks! This book is told mostly from Batty's perspective, who is almost eleven years old and growing up quickly.

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book is a little more serious than I recall the previous books were, but still a delightful read and a fun visit with an unusual family.
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(94 ratings; 4.4)
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