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The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The four Penderwick sisters are back home, and facing an assortment of minor crises. Their widowed father is reluctantly starting to date, pushed by his sister and a letter his wife wrote before she died, leading the girls to hatch the \"Save Daddy Plan.\" Middle sisters Skye and Jane switch homework assignments, and now Skye is being forced to star in a play everyone believes she wrote. And oldest sister Rosalind is fumbling her way to her first romantic relationship.
Is it any good?
This second book is better than the first. As hinted by the old-fashioned silhouettes gracing their covers, the Penderwick books deliberately hearken back to an earlier era in children's literature, when the world was safe, problems were small, humor was clean, and kids roamed free. A cross between a '30s screwball comedy (think You Can't Take It with You) in which all the characters have an excess of eccentric personality, and a '50s sitcom (think Father Knows Best), this series is a nostalgia trip for boomers who grew up on The Moffats by Eleanor Estes and Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.
While the characters still tend to be rather one-dimensional, the caricatures of the first book are gone, though the problems -- stepparents and budding romance -- are similar. The characters are likable (no cardboard villains this time), and the story whizzes by effortlessly and pleasurably (though occasionally absurdly, as when the children capture a thief). For parents looking for books like the ones they read in their own childhoods, and for kids looking to escape from violent fantasy and action/adventure into a simpler, sweeter world, this is a good choice.