Happy Thursday, my friends!
Today I am so excited to share a review of The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall. I raved about the Penderwicks in my first review of the series. And this book was just as good!
Y’all. Where have I been that I am just getting into this series now that there are 5 books?! These books are delightful, silly, and beautiful. They are about family, friendship, growing up, and righting your mistakes. They are perfect to read aloud. They are perfect for all ages. I need to own the whole series and I’ve only read the first two (and started the third).
Seriously, I cannot speak highly enough of this series. I love it so much!!
Initial Thoughts on this book:
- I love that we get to see the Penderwicks at home over a longer period of time. It’s so fun to see them each experience different firsts and collaborate on all their big Penderwick plans.
- We only get a glimpse of Jeffrey in this novel via word of mouth mostly. But I would have loved a lot more from him! I have started the third book, and he’s back with the girls on summer vacation and I love it already!
- What is it about Hound that makes me want a dog? I don’t even really like dogs!
- I grew up in a house of sisters, and I love all the memories that these books bring back for me! I find myself nodding and laughing as they had their MOPS (meetings of Penderwick Sisters), shared rooms, tried to sabotage their dad’s plans, and elected the OAP (oldest available Penderwick). So much of this feels familiar to my own childhood! From the arguments to the rescues to the blunders, this book is so real to me. I’m sure all sorts of readers will feel connected to the Penderwicks.
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall continues the story of the Penderwick sisters as their dad tries dating for the first time since their mother’s death. Goodreads summarizes, “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. The Penderwick sisters are home on Gardam Street and ready for an adventure! But the adventure they get isn’t quite what they had in mind. Mr. Penderwick’s sister has decided it’s time for him to start dating–and the girls know that can only mean one thing: disaster. Enter the Save-Daddy Plan–a plot so brilliant, so bold, so funny, that only the Penderwick girls could have come up with it. It’s high jinks, big laughs, and loads of family warmth as the Penderwicks triumphantly return.”
The Save-Daddy Plan and plot was fun and uncomfortable. I felt so sad for the girls because we get more background on their memories with their mother, especially near the end of her battle with cancer. But it was also so fun to see the ways the sisters sought to stop their dad’s dating. The ridiculous dates he has (and his Latin reactions to them!) are laugh out loud funny. I absolutely loved the Marianne Dashwood references which were even more hilarious because not one of the sisters (or their Aunt Claire) picked up on them! The subtle nudges towards the perfect woman for their father are light and heartwarming. I love the way it all comes together.
It was fun to see everyone in their daily lives and see more of their characters and personalities. I loved the different ways they react to the same situation. Skye is so endearing in this book because she makes big mistakes but tries to fix them later. Her explosive temper, extreme neatness and nerdy fascination with science and math are just so fun. I love that girl! Jane was also fun to get to know better in this novel. I love that she’s an aspiring writer and becomes her characters when upset (like at the soccer game! Ha!). I love when she gives up a trip to see Jeffrey to Skye, and the big mishap with Skye and Jane over the play. Too funny! Batty is so innocent, sweet, and unknowingly hilarious. Batty’s obsession with bug man is surprisingly helpful. I love the way she bonds with Ben and tries to do the right thing (even when she’d rather be spying on the neighbors or hiding under the table). The only Penderwick who bothered me in this one was Rosalind. I thought she was a bit over-the-top moody about her father dating and should have talked with him about it much sooner. Her insistence that she did not like Tommy was funny though. It was so perfectly narrated and I couldn’t help thinking “I’ve been there.” Haha. I love that these sisters are always there for each other.
“After all, she told herself, no one can worry constantly, and anyway, maybe she should learn to trust fate a little more.”
“…even a tiny bit of deceit is dishonorable when it’s used for selfish or cowardly reasons.”
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
The Penderwicks novels have such lovely messages and morals without being overly preachy. They teach us about the importance of family and “upholding the family honor.” They teach us about trusting each other and telling the truth. They teach us about sacrifice and loss but also about blessings and new beginnings. This is not a perfect family. They are real, flawed individuals just doing the best they can. Perhaps because of that, they are so easy to cheer for and to love.
I loved the second Penderwicks novel just as much as the first book! The characters are brilliantly developed, the plot is fun and surprising. And the ending is just beautiful–go read it for yourself now!
If you haven’t read these books yet, start them today!
Have you read the Penderwick novels yet?
What are some of your favorite read aloud books?