A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
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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).
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?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love family and coming-of-age
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