A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jeanne Birdsall's The Penderwicks in Spring is the fourth in a planned five-part series. There's a lot of strong emotion as main character Batty, who's almost 11, deals with the loss of her mother and of a beloved pet. The large cast of characters all are great role models, but Batty does try to take the bus by herself into the big city, and she and her younger brother tear up a five-dollar bill and flush it down the toilet.
What's the story?
Thanks to a new music teacher, 10-year-old Batty learns that her talent for singing is very special. Anxious to pay for voice lessons, Batty finds a job walking the neighbors' dogs. But Batty's not sure she can trust herself to take care of a dog; she thinks it's her fault that her beloved pet Hound passed away a few months back. Meanwhile, her sister Skye has broken things off with Jeffrey, and that means the one person Batty can really talk to about what's important is cut off from her, too. When she accidentally overhears a shocking secret about her mother's death, the burden becomes too much for Batty to bear, and she finds that she can't sing anymore. Something's got to give, or Batty just might break.
Is it any good?
THE PENDERWICKS IN SPRING continues to charm and delight as the spotlight turns its intense focus onto fifth-grader Batty. Author Jeanne Birdsall strikes a nice balance between the in-depth exploration of Batty's emotional life and the everyday chaos of a large blended family. Her distinctive characters and eye for the telling detail make keeping track of who's who easy and fun. Readers may find they shed a tear or two when Birdsall's simple prose, with genuine heart, effortlessly packs an emotional wallop.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this fourth installment compares with the other Penderwicks books. Which is your favorite? How do you think the series will end?
Batty's feelings about her mother's death are too much for her to handle alone. Do you keep your feelings to yourself? Do you think it would help to talk about them with someone? Whom do you like to talk to?
Batty earns extra money by walking the neighbors' dogs. What are some ways you could earn money? What would you like to save up for, if you could?
- Author: Jeanne Birdsall
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
- Publication date: March 24, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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