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

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Sisters romp through summer in old-fashioned charmer.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 39 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The girls trespass, sneak out of the house, eavesdrop, and are temperamental.


Some kisses and imagined kisses.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Penderwicks, the story of a widower and his four daughters on summer vacation in the Berkshires, won the 2005 National Book Award. The story is full of innocent adventures and misadventures, and the girls misbehave a  bit: rampaging through Mrs. Tifton's formal gardens, sneaking out of the house, losing their tempers, and not always being truthful. There's a first crush and a few kisses.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJadeKS April 28, 2018

No positive message? Did you READ the book?

This book and family is filled with so much love and dynamic character it is outrageous that it could be said there is "No positive message"
Self disc... Continue reading
Adult Written bySummerplayshouse September 26, 2019

Lovely story! Except monitor sone of the words used

My 7 year old loves these books! The stories remind me of Little Women meets The Secret Garden. Fun adventures, family, nature and relationships. The only nega... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byHappy Bookworm April 20, 2013

Truly an Amazing Book!

This book is awesome! Any child would like it, as long as they're not into action-action-action-action books (or it could be a break from action-action-act... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byCaitlin Murray August 3, 2019
I really can't think of another book I enjoyed more as a kid, other than Anne of Green Gables. Even now, I'm sixteen and still pull it out on rainy d... Continue reading

What's the story?

The Penderwicks -- responsible older sister Rosalind, 12; temperamental Skye, 11; budding writer Jane, 10; little Batty, 4; and their botanist father (their mother is dead) -- head out for a summer vacation at a rented cottage on the Arundel estate in the Berkshires. There they meet Jeffrey, the musically talented son of Mrs. Tifton, the snobbish owner of the estate, and Cagney, the teen groundskeeper. After some initial social disasters, the girls and Jeffrey get to be good friends, and Rosalind develops a crush on Cagney.

But Mrs. Tifton, supported by her equally mean and stuck-up beau Dexter Dupree, doesn't approve of the Penderwick girls or their friendship with her son. After a miserable and disastrous birthday party for Jeffrey, they overhear his mom and Dupree planning to marry and send Jeffrey away to military school. Gentle, artistic Jeffrey is horrified, and when his mother won't listen to his pleas, he plans to run away.

Is it any good?

THE PENDERWICKS is a leisurely paced, old-fashioned kind of story about children enjoying a summer of outdoor play. It won the 2005 National Book Award and was a bit hit with readers and critics who delighted in its humor, family dynamics, and nostalgic atmosphere, despite a copule of one-note characters (the mean and snobbish Mrs. Tipton and her boyfriend).

The Penderwicks spawned the successful sequels The Penderwicks on Gardam Street and The Penderwicks at Point Mouette.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters' behavior. Is Mrs. Tifton correct in her criticism of Mr. Penderwick's parenting?

  • How do you think the Penderwicks' childhood is different from how most kids live today?

  • Is it fun to see how kids can make up their own fun all day long without texting or playing video games?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family and coming-of-age

Themes & Topics

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