Title: The Penderwicks in Spring (Penderwicks 4)
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Publication Date: 2015
Spring is finally coming and changes are in the air. The family has grown to eight since the birth of now two-year-old Lydia. Rosalind is at college, and Skye and Jane are teenagers dealing with teenage things. Ben is in second grade and trying to survive being the only boy in the family, and Lydia is into, well, everything. But fifth grade Batty takes all this in stride. Sometimes, however, change can be overwhelming and a little scary.
Rosalind is at college but when she comes home for a brief visit, she brings hateful Oliver, whom no one likes. Skye isn’t ready for a relationship with Jeremy, the honorary member of the family and Batty’s music mentor, so she banishes him from visiting the family. Jane is always having noisy and overly dramatic teenagers to the house who talk too loud and take up too much space. When neighbor Nick Geiger comes home from war, everyone is thrilled but the anxiety levels rise when he must return overseas and Ben fears for his safety. Mr. Penderwick and Iantha declare the old van dead and purchase a blindingly bright turquoise minivan. And Batty just can’t seem to torture any of her beloved books by subjecting them to the dreaded book report.
This might have been too much to deal with until a substitute music teacher compliments Batty on her singing and encourages her to take lessons. In addition to her appreciation of classical music, Batty seems to have a gift when it comes to singing. To pay for the lessons herself, Batty starts a dog walking business with Duchess, a fat dachshund, and Cilantro, a wrinkled shar-pei. This is a challenge because her beloved dog Hound passed away six months earlier. She begins to plan a perfect surprise for her upcoming birthday, but even the best surprises can go awry.
I fell in love with The Penderwicks series with the first book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a very Interesting Boy. Seriously, can a title get any better?! The series is truly delightful and magical, and I guarantee you will both laugh and cry. The relationship between the four sisters develops over the course of the novels as new “honorary” and permanent family members are added. This is the kind of family you want to live next door to and secretly wish they were your own.
As one of three girls myself, I can especially appreciate the sisterly bond. I enjoy the use of acronyms like PWTW (Penderwick Willing to Work) and MOPS (Meeting of the Older Penderwick Sisters); the family is full of the secret meetings and pacts that all siblings share. You know, the ones like, “If I ever do that like Mom …” or “If I every date anyone like …” The warmth, humor, and sincerity of this series make it a Secret Garden type book for this generation; it is the kind of book that stay on your shelf and you read it over and over. Reading and rereading The Penderwicks Series is like visiting with old friends.
Who might like this book:
I promise that adults will love this book, as it evokes wonderful memories from childhood. This is also a book to read with your daughters. I loved sharing it with my daughter and following the series with her. However, I don’t want to discount the dads; in the book, the mother died when Batty was very young so the only parent until the third book is the professor father. His witticism and perplexity at raising four daughters only adds to the tenderness of the story. DO NOT start the series with the fourth book. You must read the series in order. I promise, you’ll thank me. Author Jeanne Birdsall promises one final book in the series.
Penderwick books in order:
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a very Interesting Boy
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
The Penderwicks in Spring