Katie Reads: The Penderwicks 3 & 4

I’ve finished reading the last two Penderwicks books, and while initially I considered writing two separate reviews I decided I’d be more likely to actually review them if I just wrote one post.

First up, The Penderwicks at Point Mouette:

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When summer comes around, it’s off to the beach for Rosalind . . . and off to Maine with Aunt Claire for the rest of the Penderwick girls, as well as their old friend, Jeffrey.

That leaves Skye as OAP (oldest available Penderwick)—a terrifying notion for all, but for Skye especially. Things look good as they settle into their cozy cottage, with a rocky shore, enthusiastic seagulls, a just-right corner store, and a charming next-door neighbor.  But can Skye hold it together long enough to figure out Rosalind’s directions about not letting Batty explode?  Will Jane’s Love Survey come to a tragic conclusion after she meets the alluring Dominic? Is Batty—contrary to all accepted wisdom—the only Penderwick capable of carrying a tune?  And will Jeffrey be able to keep peace between the girls . . . these girls who are his second, and most heartfelt, family?

It’s a rollicking ride as the Penderwicks continue their unforgettable adventures in a story filled with laughs and joyful tears!

I don’t really have much to say about this book that I haven’t said about the first two in the series. It’s charming and the Penderwick sisters are delightful as always. My only sadness was that Rosalind was not really in it. Aside from that it was wonderful, read it.

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Springtime is finally arriving on Gardam Street, and there are surprises in store for each member of the family. Some surprises are just wonderful, like neighbor Nick Geiger coming home from war. And some are ridiculous, like Batty’s new dog-walking business. Batty is saving up her dog-walking money for an extra-special surprise for her family, which she plans to present on her upcoming birthday. But when some unwelcome surprises make themselves known, the best-laid plans fall apart.

Filled with all the heart, hilarity, and charm that has come to define this beloved clan, The Penderwicks in Spring is about fun and family and friends (and dogs), and what happens when you bring what’s hidden into the bright light of the spring sun.

SPOILERS for this book.

I have such mixed feelings about this book. Birdsall made some big changes to the dynamic established in the previous installments. First, this book is set 6 years after the last one. Second, the book focuses largely on Batty. This was a big change from the previous books where the pov shifted between the sisters. The book also shifted away from the standard happy, feel good adventures I had come to expect from the Penderwicks.

I almost didn’t keep reading after I realized how large a time jump the book had made from the last one because I liked reading about the Penderwick sisters as kids. Suddenly, Batty was the only one of the original sisters that was still a child (although two more young siblings have been added to the mix), and Rosalind was in college and away for most of the book. After reading all the favorable reviews, and thinking about how much I loved the first three, I decided to give this one a shot.

The Penderwicks in Spring is the darkest of the series. Batty suffers from a bout of very bad depression during the course of the book and we see a lot more discord between the sisters and the Penderwick family. By the ending things have been resolved happily, but unlike the preceding three, this book was much less of an escape from reality.

This wouldn’t have been the direction I would have gone with the series. I think it did work, and that Birdsall still wrote a great novel and a great addition to the Penderwicks series. However, I am disappointed with the shift from focusing on all the sisters to just Batty (as much as I love Batty, I missed the others).

So, if you liked the other books, read this one, but realize that it’s going to be different from the others.

Also, side note. Anyone else think she’s going to do another time jump and put Jeffery and Batty together? Birdsall has said she was inspired by Little Women and they’re the Laurie and Amy equivalents (and Jeffery’s crush on Skye, who doesn’t reciprocate, is pretty much straight up Laurie liking Jo and being rejected). Just something I was pondering, although it would require quite a time jump in order to work.

Stay magical readers!

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