The Penderwicks at Last

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
The Penderwicks at Last Book Poster Image
Charming, funny series finale comes full circle.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

A few words and phrases in Latin. A few phrases not translated in Czech. Advanced vocabulary like "embodiment" defined.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about family loyalty, friendship creative play, love of many art forms like dance, music, reading, and writing. Academic pursuits like astrophysics and math, a spirit of adventure, love of animals, pitching in to help with big jobs, and empathy are frequently modeled by the large Penderwick family and their equally large circle of friends and loved ones.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Youngest Penderwick Lydia, 11, is a good model of friendship and empathy. She loves to dance and does it freely, anywhere and everywhere. She doesn't like being told how to dance, though, so she's dropped out of many dance classes. All the Penderwicks are good models for pursuing your passion, family loyalty, helping out, learning, and creativity.

Violence & Scariness

Some mild scariness looking for ghosts in a spooky mansion. Ben's movies always end with the main character's death by various means, including murder.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Penderwicks at Last is the fifth and final installment in the popular series by National Book Award-winner Jeanne Birdsall. This time the activity swirls around a wedding, so love, marriage, boyfriends past and present, are frequent topics, with a few mentions of kissing. There's some mild scariness when children go looking for ghosts in a spooky mansion, and brother Ben's home movies usually end with the main character dying; one death scene with a sci-fi theme is described as it's being filmed but isn't violent. Lots of positive messages about -- and role models for -- family loyalty, friendship, empathy, learning, creativity, and having a spirit of adventure.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

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Kid, 11 years old January 2, 2021

A good book, but with unfocused plot, and not many details about the more important things

As well written as this book might be, I was disappointed in some of the characters decisions, and the way the author describes their passions. For example, (PO... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old July 18, 2018

Poignant series finale hits all the right spots

Jeanne Birdsall's finale to the award-winning, critically acclaimed Penderwicks series is pretty much perfect. All the characters are back, and they have a... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE PENDERWICKS AT LAST are heading back to Arundel, the stately manor house where it all began. Youngest sibling Lydia, 11, has never been, but her older sisters' exploits there are family legend. Even better, a family wedding means all the Penderwick siblings will be together again. But some things have changed at Arundel. For one, the caretaker has a daughter, Alice, who's Lydia's age. Will the two decide to be friends during Lydia's visit? And some things haven't changed enough, like the sour Mrs. Tifton. Has she finally met a Penderwick she likes?

Is it any good?

Past and present, old and new, weave a cheerful tapestry together with laughter, love, and adventure that will beguile generations of young readers. As with the four previous books in the series, The Penderwicks at Last blends a timeless appeal that'll remind parents and grandparents of their own childhood favorites with a refreshingly modern sensibility. And as before, each one of the large cast of colorful characters, human and animal alike, bring something unique to the story. Seen through 11-year-old Lydia's eyes, the story keeps the pages turning, and kids will find a lot of appeal in adventuring outside all day long like Lydia does. Great for reading alone or aloud. The satisfying ending closes a circle in which there will always be Penderwicks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Penderwicks at Last shows that the family members are loyal to one another. What are some things they do that show loyalty? Would you be willing to do the same things for a family member or friend?

  • Have you read any other books in the Penderwicks series? If so, which did you like best? 

  • How do the Penderwicks show they love and care for their pets? Which animal character is your favorite? Why?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories about families

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