The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

by Jeanne Birdsall

Hardcover, 2005

Call number



Knopf Books for Young Readers (2005), Edition: First Edition, 262 pages


While vacationing with their widowed father in the Berkshire Mountains, four lovable sisters, ages four through twelve, share adventures with a local boy, much to the dismay of his snobbish mother.

User reviews

LibraryThing member RidgewayGirl
It's growing increasingly difficult to find books that I can read to my two children. With one eight-year-old and a daughter in middle school, finding a book that appeals to all three of us is increasingly difficult. So finding a book all three of us look forward to is something to celebrate. This
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year, the clear favorite is this book.

The Penderwicks tells the story of a family who goes to spend a few weeks one summer in a cottage on the grounds of a mansion. Their mother died a few years ago and their father is loving but involved in his botany, the four Penderwick daughters are independent and protective of each other. Rosalind is the oldest at twelve and serves as a surrogate mother to Batty, the youngest Penderwick. Jane is a dreamer and a writer, Skye sporty and mathematical. They meet the son of the big house, Jeffrey, and become involved in his life.

The Penderwicks has the feel of a classic British children's book, while being set in a modern United States. Birdsall manages to make the plot adventurous and action-packed while retaining that old-fashioned feel and keeping the events all tremendously realistic. My children were enthralled, and so was I.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
I am probably just echoing what so many people have already written about The Penderwicks when I say it was a delightful, joyful story that made me feel like I was visiting a favorite book from my youth. Although set in today’s world , this book had an old fashioned, warm feeling that it reminded
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me of reading Little Women, or watching an old Disney favorite, “Summer Magic”.

The four sisters each has their own strong identity and their conversations with each other were hilarious. I was immediately caught up in their lives, in fact, I wanted to be one of them! With a gentle, loving and wise father to guide them, a wonderful dog to watch over them, their lives seemed to be one long summer adventure.

This author as done a great job of creating a charming book that appears to be on it‘s way to becoming a children‘s classic. I will definitely be looking forward to spending some time with the Penderwicks in their next book.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty Penderwick are four sisters who go to a summer cottage on vacation with their father and the dog, Hound. At fourteen, Rosalind tries to keep order and mother the youngest, Batty, who is four. The four girls meet a boy, Jeffrey, and get into all sorts of scrapes during
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a summer they will always remember.

Though set in the present day, The Penderwicks has a sort of old-fashioned, timeless quality to it. The words that kept coming to mind were cute, sweet, and funny. IPods and designer clothes aren't mentioned, and the themes are such that kids from all generations can relate to, like a child's relationship with a parent, so it's one that I would be willing to purchase and keep around to share with my own (future) children.
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LibraryThing member shillson
The Penderwicks is a story about 4 sisters who are spending the summer in the Berkshire Mountains with their widowed father and dog, Hound. The cottage they are renting for the summer is on an elegant property with a mansion and prize-winning gardens. In the mansion lives a young boy and his very
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strict and snobbish mother, Mrs. Tifton. Mrs. Tifton does not like clumsy Hound or the girls exploring through her gardens. She's not thrilled about her son playing with them either. Nonetheless the children enjoy a summer of adventure and childhood antics.
The antics of the children are age appropriate and realistic. The children each have unique personalities and are likeable and relatable characters. The story has an old fashioned feel to it and the story leaves you wishing for simpler times. This would be a great family read and may even get some kids wanting to explore the outdoors. I would recommend this book to students in grades 3-6.
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LibraryThing member Sarahfine
But for the cars, this book could have been written in any time frame. With the same family feel as "Five Little Peppers" and "Little Women," the Penderwicks is a charming tale about 4 girls and their father who go on vacation to a giant country estate, where they befriend a neighbor boy with a
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stern mother.
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LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
The four Penderwick sisters have adventures with their neighbor, a boy with a very strict mother, while on vacation. The characters are well-developed and lovely. Each Penderwick sister has a very different personality and they're all very likeable in their own way. They have a very close bond and
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it made me want to be a Penderwick, too!

This is a slow, rich, summertime story with an old-fashioned, timeless feel. It's also squeaky clean and would make a good suggestion for younger kids with advanced reading levels.
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LibraryThing member alimcc
"The Penderwicks" follows four sisters -- Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty -- as they spend their summer vacation in the Berkshire Mountains.

Thinking they are spending the summer in a quaint cottage, the four sisters and their father soon find that they are in fact guests on Mrs. Tifton's sprawling
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estate, complete with lush garden and a young gardener. The four girls soon meet Mrs. Tifton's son, Jeffrey, a lonely, adventurous young boy who secretly dreams of being a musician but has resigned to his fate of attending the Military Academy, just like his father. As the four girls and Jeffrey strike up a friendship, they find themselves in numerous sticky situations. When an accident involving the family's goofy dog, hound, and a beloved bunny convinces four year old Batty to set out on her own towards home, will the summer end in disaster?

The Penderwicks has a very timeless, magical feel to it. It almost reads as a re-imagining of the Secret Garden in the beginning, and except for the few references to modern conveniences such as cars, it is easy to forget the story is contemporary. At it's heart, it is a tale of familial love and the bonds of friendship. Even though they don't always like eachother, it is clear that the Penderwick sisters have a deep affection for one another, and they let Jeffrey into this tight-knit circle. Readers will find themselves wanting to spend more time with this fun, quirky, loving family. Highly recommended for grades 4-6.
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LibraryThing member richardderus
Old-fashioned children's title, but so boring it put me to sleep every ~10pp. I read "The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew" last year, for the first time, and didn't feel this deadening miasma of ennui...and it's hard to get more old-fashioned than that! Elizabeth Enright's "The Four-Storey
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Mistake" is old-fashioned, and likewise passes the well-aged test. To be fair, the latter was a re-read, so there were existing happy associations.

I returned "The Penderwicks on Gardam Street" unread because I didn't want to risk the coma becoming permanent this time. My granddaughter will be relieved, too, since she wasn't any more impressed than I was.
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LibraryThing member ChristianR
Wonderfully engaging book about four sisters, their dog, and a boy who they befriend while on vacation. While each sister has a very distinct personality, they look out for each other. Their adventures, and their concern for Jeffrey who is going to be sent to a military boarding school, provide a
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lot of tension and entertainment.
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LibraryThing member babbryan
This reminds me of The Boxcar Children. It is reading level of 5.0 but the interest level of a third grader. I just thought it was all too contrived. Nothing real, nothing alive in it for me. No life lessons except you should talk to your parents about important things. I don't get the award?
LibraryThing member Ms.Turtle
Good book! The four Penderwick sister's(Rosalind, Jane,Skye, and Batty) try to enjoy a vacation. In this book the Penderwick girls meet a boy named Jeffory and her mother Mrs.Tipton.
LibraryThing member FionaCat
This is a charming book that reminds me of the books I loved to read as a child. There are even mentions of Narnia and the Bastables in the story.

The four Penderwick sisters and their widowed father rent a cottage for their summer vacation. The cottage is on the grounds of a mansion called
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Arundel, which has wonderful gardens and a young gardener who the eldest Penderwick develops a crush on. There is also a boy who lives in the mansion and becomes a good friend to all the girls. Their summer adventures are gentle but exciting: little Batty must be rescued from an angry bull in a neighbor's field; a rabbit escapes and must be found; a soccer game goes awry and interrupts the annual Garden Society Show.

This is a lovely book.
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LibraryThing member Nikkles
I like to read children's books. I enjoyed them as a child and continue to enjoy them. I don't usually read the ones that win awards, since there usually dreadfully sad. The Penderwicks are delightfully funny, while still dealing with the real troubles of childhood. All the characters are very
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unique and believable. The children while being very bright and creative are not so bright and creative that they couldn't possibly be children. This all points to very good writing. A perfect book for children and adults that like to read good well planned stories. As I believe some authors have mentioned this book does as an old fashioned feel to the writing as it doesn't get caught up with how fast paced and different modern children are. This is I believe a big plus and very close to how many children are still raised. So, overall a very fun and interesting book that can be read and enjoyed by all.
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LibraryThing member smpenni
Feeling like a modernized version of Alcott's classic, Little Women, reader's will be instantaneously charmed by the character's in Birdsall's The Penderwicks. . . With never a dull moment, the reader is pulled into the story and can identify with the personality of at least one of the sisters, and
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can envision the enormous estate on which they are guests for the summer. The adventures never, at least until the book does, so grab this one and get reading!
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LibraryThing member MaowangVater
Instead of their usual trip to Cape Cod, the Penderwick sisters (ages 12, 11, 10, and 4) and their father spend three weeks in the Berkshires for their summer vacation. When they first arrive they discover they’ve rented a guest cottage on a huge estate owned by the “snooty as all get-out”
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Mrs. Tifton and her son Jeffery, who, unlike his mother, is very friendly and close to the sisters age.
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LibraryThing member lhunt314
Kind of like "The Secret Garden" with development of friendship and misunderstood children. Characters aren't too well developed and many of the stories problems remain unresolved or only partially resolved.
LibraryThing member pattymarsh
A cute book that melds the feeling of an old fashioned children's story with modern day. Upper Elem.
LibraryThing member saucyhp
The kind of story I liked when I was younger, its good to see they're still being written! Although life is different for children nowadays and their fiction reflects that, sometimes you just want a simple, charming story like this one.
LibraryThing member bibliophile26
This book was the National Book Award Winner of Children's Literature in 2005. 4 girls becoming friends with a boy neighbor? Sounds like a Little Women rip-off, right? It certainly did to me, but I found the characters charming and the stories cute.
LibraryThing member MSLMC
This book reminds me of stories by Elizabeth Goudge. Though set in current day, the style of writing is charming and "old fashioned." Four sisters, a writer, a tomboy, a responsible oldest, and the "baby" of the family, meet the boy next door who becomes a good friend of the sisters- sound familiar?
LibraryThing member hoosgracie
Very sweet story. Really liked the sisters, especially Sky. Batty was also a lot of fun. Look forward to the next one.
LibraryThing member carrie.murphy
This is a great novel written about four girls, their dog, a boy and his two rabbits that they meet while going on summer vacation. This adventure novel was written in a way that young readers can read it while still learning new vocabulary.
LibraryThing member bellalibrarian
The four Penderwick sisters, Batty, Jane, Skye and Rosalind find themselves staying in a lovely summer home on the Arundel estate. They meet a very interesting young boy named Jeffrey and together, they all experience a number of interesting and incredibly hilarious adventures. Jeffrey's mother,
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the hateful Mrs. Tifton is determined to ruin there fun in order to save her beloved garden!

This was a great book! I loved the way that Birdsall portrayed the four sisters. So incredibly different, but all equally wonderful!
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LibraryThing member alanna1122
I listened to the unabridged audio version of this book.

I haven't ever heard of these books before and decided to take a chance on it when I found it among my library's downloadable audio selections. Overall I thought it was a nice book - very cute and sweet - really hearkens back to books written
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in the fifties. At first I was really unsure what year or decade the book was set in because it had such an old-fashioned feel. It took until the mention of the father's computer to convince me that it was indeed current day.

The most obvious influence on the book obviously is Little Women - any book featuring a family of scrappy girls can't help but take some cues from there - but the comparisons are subtle and not direct.

The biggest negative of the audio book was the baby voice the reader chose to use for Batty the youngest of the girls. It was so silly and jarring - it literally set my teeth on edge. I think just that in itself makes me reluctant to listen to another one of these books read by the same reader.

All in all - a clean, sweet, old-fashioned book - with a slow pace and meandering plot.
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LibraryThing member librarianjojo
This was a very enjoyable read. It brought to mind tales I read as a child. The innocence of the children is refreshing.




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