The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

Book review by Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 9+

Sequel to award-winner has more depth.

Parents say

age 10+

Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 9+

Based on 4 reviews

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A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Hard to put down! Classic feel

My family loves thes books! The girls are charming--loyal, strong, and funny!! Each has their own distinct personality and they compliment each other well. The best part is that they aren't obsessed with video games, electronics, television, and pop culture. The lack of technology gives the books a timeless quality. Their loyalty to one another, the Penderwick family honor, their struggles with deceit of any kind, and their tender way of caring for one another (even when they make mistakes), are all excellent talking points. I read this aloud to my 6 and 8 year olds and by the end, my son was saying "loquacious" when referring to his talkative older sister :) Excellent vocabulary building! Great series and another wonderful book!

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 11+

Anti-Semitic on Gardam Street?

My 9 year old son and I very much enjoyed listening to the CD version of The Penderwicks. The structure and flow of the books took me back to some of my favorite books in childhood. I was thrilled that my rough and tumble boy loved the very grounded story about 4 sisters. We have been eagerly listening to The Penderwicks On Gardam Street and I have been as pleased with it as I was with the first one, until the very last chapter of the book when the villain is exposed. The villain has been referred to as, "Bug Man", by Batty the youngest sister throughout the book. Turns out "Bug Man" has been stalking The Penderwick's next door neighbor, Iantha, accusing her of stealing his research at the University. He breaks into Iantha's home and steals her computer but is caught and held by the industrious Penderwick sisters. In the course of his captivity he is called, "slime, nut, nasty thief, and a pathetic little person". Bug Man reveals to the children that his name is Norman Birnbaum. Immediately I felt alarmed at hearing the very Jewish name. Then something dawned on me. The Penderwicks live in Connecticut and are obviously white. All the characters in the books so far have been white no minorities to be found. The other characters the Penderwicks socialize with have been either clean cut athletic types or New England intellectuals. I find it very disturbing that the only character with a Semitic sounding last name is a slimy caricature. Perhaps the Penderwick series is a bit too much like some of the children's books of the past.

Book Details

  • Author: Jeanne Birdsall
  • Genre: Family Life
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
  • Publication date: April 1, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
  • Number of pages: 308
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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