A new summer classic for the child at heart

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

Bullet Review:

This was a lot of fun, very reminiscent of quirky, family adventure books I read as a child. I would heartily recommend to this age group or anyone who is a child at heart who loves fun.

That said, there were a few eye-twitching parts/moments that keep this from a higher rating.

Although I rated it 3 stars, this is not me hating on the book! It is me saying it was "Okay". A book I would definitely recommend, but not want to pursue further books in the series.

Full review:

The Penderwicks - Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty (what an eclectic bunch of names!) along with Dad and Hound - are vacationing in a cottage at Arundel, the home of Mrs. Tifton and her son, Jeffrey. While they are there, numerous adventures and escapades occur - the discovery of Jeffrey, bunnies, a raging bull, a Garden competition, a birthday party, a secret crush, etc. But the threat above all is this: will Mrs. Tifton send her son to Military School to be like his grandfather?

Eons ago (at least, it feels that way now), I wanted a fun summery read and was recommended this (thanks, THT!). Unfortunately, as these go, by the time I bought it, I wasn't itching for a summer read - and it went unread for 3 years. Now, I was traveling and I just HIT that vein where I wanted to read short, fun books and weed through my collection of books such as this.

I found this book a fun read, though at times, it sent my eyes a'twitchin'. Don't get me wrong; this was a fun, light-hearted read, and it felt like those books I would read as a child - a classic "any time period" feel where kids acted goofy and silly and sometimes dumb, where summer was full of adventure and possibility.

That said, I'm an adult now, not 12, so there were things that I just couldn't blow past. For instance, many of the kids felt oddly aged. Rosalind felt much older than 12, especially crushing on the much older Cagney. Now yes, when I was 12, I was more than capable of crushes, but coupled with the way she acted like the Mom (even more than the Dad acted like a dad), it just felt weird. Speaking of Dad, he was barely present in the book, unless to give encouragement or to be called upon when the girls acted like, well, brats. (Because, yes, some of what they did was truly bratty and wouldn't have happened if there was even a modicum of parental attention.) He was in this so little, I almost wondered why bother writing his character at all (which was, of course, goofy, eccentric dad - yawn!).

I didn't care for how Mrs. Tifton and Dexter were treated. I got the impression Mrs. Tifton would be in her 50's and 60's, so I was shocked when she was described as being near Mr. Penderwick's age (roughly 30's). Also, I felt that she was very justified in being irritated by how often the girls would run into her gardens and, well, wreck things. Honestly, when she said the girls were brats and unruly and unsupervised - she was right. The dad rented the cottage, not the entire mansion. And while Dexter's reaction to Jane's book may seem rude, the fact is, it's probably more realistic than we'd like to admit.

In general, good people are good to the Penderwicks, bad people are bad, in that childish black/white characterization. It's passable for a child, but irritating for adults.

But I feel I need to stop myself now. Because I'm making this book sound horrible - and it's not. It's fun. It's timeless (minus mentioning a laptop, which was quite weird to be honest, since the book felt as if it could have been written in the 1950's!). It's just a bunch of kids having quirky adventures over a summer time. You can't really bring too much thought and inspection into something like this - you ruin the beauty of a story like this.

And so I rate this 3 stars; it was "good". I enjoyed myself, but still had qualms. Would I recommend this and/or buy this for a child of the appropriate age? You betcha! Would I read/buy another book of this series for myself? Probably not. That ship has sailed - but at least, I can recommend this to the child and the childlike at heart.