The Penderwicks in Spring: A Book Review

Hello!

The Penderwicks in SpringTitle: The Penderwicks in Spring
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Published: March 24th, 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Genre: Middle Grade / Realistic Fiction
Source: Library / Hardcover
Series: You bet! Books One, Two, and Three are some of my absolute favorites, and I am anxiously awaiting the fifth and final installment.

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.

With over one million copies sold, this series of modern classics about the charming Penderwick family, from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestseller Jeanne Birdsall, is perfect for fans of Noel Streatfeild and Edward Eager. {Goodreads}

As other book bloggers can surely relate, I could spend hours discussing my love of books, largely in part due to the numerous benefits of reading. My packed bookshelf has introduced me to a wide variety of cultures, made me a stronger English student, and given me a greater sense of empathy and compassion. Perhaps my favorite advantage of being a bookworm, however, is the ability to escape at any moment to any place. Books can never replace the wonders of the real world, but traveling to imaginary settings can offer comfort to readers all the same, as it does in Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks in Spring, the fourth novel of the beloved and timeless series.

Gardam Street, the home of the Penderwick sisters, may not be the typical choice for favorite fictional place – it’s a small town setting at its finest, a community that only exists in the pages of books or the episodes of a television show – but when it is coupled with the charm of a close-knit family and the imaginative nature of childhood, it’s easy to see how one can get swept up in the adventures of the Penderwicks. Birdsall’s newest release pleased this avid Penderwicks fan to no end, even if it did make the wait for Book Five all the more unbearable.

In the four-year wait between the last two installments, the Penderwicks siblings have grown up, as they should: Rosalind is expected home from college, Skye {and Jeffery! :)} is busy as can be as a high school senior, Jane is a social butterfly in her junior year, Batty is a creative fifth grader, eight-year old Ben, their step-brother, is navigating a house full of girls, and finally, Lydia, their half-sister, is the youngest at age two. Already are there a number of characters to keep track of within the Penderwick family; the addition of close pals and neighbors only increases the amount. Nevertheless, Birdsall shapes each person with a unique personality and a distinct role, ensuring the cast of characters is a vibrant, not overwhelming, element to the story. Furthermore, the relationships developed between family members and friends are superbly crafted, as if I should have expected anything less.

Much of The Penderwicks in Spring is seen through Batty’s eyes, though not her perspective; in other words, Batty is the focus of most of the plot. I appreciate the shift Birdsall took in doing this, as it allows long-time enthusiasts of the series to catch up with the older sisters while, at the same time, continuing in the childhood simplicity of the previous novels. Birdsall’s writing is reminiscent of authors as far back as Louisa May Alcott, in which the book’s audience is invited into a family’s home with open arms. I have come across modern, well-written novels that are in the same vein as Birdsall’s work {Dana Allison Levy’s The Misadventures of Family Fletcher is the first to come to mind}, but none have created as lovable and memorable of a family as The Penderwicks. I once read of a reviewer proudly exclaiming her wish to be an honorary Penderwick. You and me both, please!

This review lacks my usual coherence, only because I found it so difficult to write of one of my favorite series. How can I honor the magic Birdsall has created in the matter of four books? How can I properly express my love of the original four sisters, Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty? How do I convince even the most middle-grade shy to give Birdsall’s novels a try? It proved no easy task, but I hope if you glean anything from this review, it’s to pick up The Penderwicks in Spring {and the three novels before it, if you haven’t already} for your next read. I have no doubt The Penderwicks will win your heart at first introduction, as they did with mine as a kid.

Need more convincing? Here’s what other reviewers had to say.
“So many books these days use snark, irony or flashy gimmicks to win over a presumably jaded audience, but Birdsall proves that all you really need to engage a reader is emotional integrity” {read the rest of the review at Vikki Vansickle on Writing, Reading, and Other Pipe Dreams HERE}.

“Don’t we all need someone to pick our voice out and exclaim that it’s beautiful? That is the way with these sweet books — you are invited into the family to love the sisters and experience their triumphs and talents like they were your own” {read the rest of the review at Stories and Thyme HERE}.

“The most wonderful thing about this book is that’s it’s just as good as all the other Penderwicks books. Birdsall is such a fantastic author, capturing the innocence of childhood as well as the more complex of emotions: frustration with being young, a bit of despair, a bit of helplessness” {read the rest of the review at The Book Nut HERE}.

Have an amazing Tuesday!

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9 thoughts on “The Penderwicks in Spring: A Book Review

  1. I had not realised for one second that your coherence was lacking! I was enthralled by your review and personally feel an urge to check this book out! Thank you for this wonderful review, I adore your blog. xoxo

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  2. […] A longtime reader of Ciao Bella will surely know of my adoration with The Penderwicks series; Jeanne Birdsall’s modern classics were staples of my childhood, and my love of Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty has only continued into my high school career. The fourth installment, The Penderwicks in Spring, returned me to their home on Gardam Street with just as much heart and charm as the three previous novels – I was grinning like a kid on Christmas the entire time. {review} […]

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