Monday, February 13, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Penderwicks

To find out more about Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, click here.
Title:   The Penderwicks
Author: Jeanne Birdsall (link)
Genre: Contemporary
Pub Date: June 2005

Synopsis: This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.

The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.

First Line: For a long time after that summer, the Penderwick sisters still talked about Arundel.

The first time I read The Penderwicks, I remember checking the publication date more than once. My memory isn't awful, but I was surprised every time. The story simply details the escapades of a family's summer vacation, but the style and voice is so classic, I couldn't believe it was written in the last decade. Just look at that first line! There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and a quirky cast of characters that makes the story rich and layered.

Happy Middle Grade Valentines: For Valentine's Day, I wanted to feature a MG book that has a sweet first love storyline in it. Unfortunately, this is a heart breaker. Poor little Rosalind, the eldest sister, falls for a nice older guy. When she mistakes his polite attention for burning romance, the crush ends up crushing her in that fist-in-the-gut way that only first love can. Rosalind undergoes a more mature arc than her sisters, but it's still appropriate for a middle grade audience. 

Why You'll Love Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty: Though it's easy to turn to stereotypes when writing about four sisters, the Penderwicks are fresh, real, and hilarious. A grade school version of the March or Bennet girls they are not. Kids will become attached to these new book friends. And if they can't get enough of Jane's whimsy and Skye's tough math love, there's more fun to come in the next Penderwick books.

You can always find more MMGM love here: 
  • Shannon Whitney Messenger's blog
  • Jennifer Rumberger's blog
  • Joanne Fritz's blog
  • Danika Dinsmore's blog
  • Shannon O'Donnell's blog 
  • Natalie Aguirre's blog
  • Brooke Favero's blog
  • Barbara Watson's blog
  • Anita Laydon Miller's blog
  • Michael G-G's blog
  • Pam Torres's blog
  • Akoss-Nye Louwon's blog
  • Gabrielle Prendergast's blog
  • Kelly Polark's blog 
  • Isaiah J Campbell's blog


  1. I liked the Penderwicks, but it's a hugely difficult sell for middle school. I have heard that it does much better with 4th and 5th graders.

  2. Agreed - this book wouldn't really work for junior high. Was definitely written for middle graders :)

  3. I adored this entire series, so did my son although they don't appear to be boy books. The characters are so genuine and real. As a dog lover, the interaction between Batty and Hound is delicious. Like you, I found the writing and story to be timeless. Classic for sure.

    And...I'm your new follower. I've been seeing your comments on other MMGMs (and thanks for the link!) and finally checked out your site!

  4. This sounds like one I'd enjoy. Funny side note, I misread "tame rabbits" as "time rabbits." I immediately thought, Time Rabbits! How cool, what are those? Now I think I'm going to have to add some time rabbits into a story of mine somewhere. Or how about that for the title of a MG sci fi?

  5. I always thought the title seemed like a "classic" book, too!
    I love how you include the first lines!!

  6. I read this book last year and LOVED IT!
    It's on my list of re-reads :)

  7. This book is on my to-read pile, hopefully I will get to it soon! Thanks for reminding me I still need to read it! :)

  8. Sounds like a good book! I will have to check it out. I mostly write YA, but I'm also a huge fan of MG.

    Nice to meet you!

  9. I sure like a good review on a good book. Thanks for doing so. I'm surprised I haven't heard of this yet.

    I gave you a shout-out on my blog today! :)

  10. Oh man...I know on the heartbreak of the first love in this book! This is one of my favourite middle grade reads. Thanks for sharing it.