This timeless tale from a first-time author introduces the thoroughly likable Penderwicks, on vacation in a rental cottage on Arundel, a sprawling Massachusetts estate. Their spirited family dynamics and repartee call to mind those in Hilary McKay's novels, and the sisters' delightfully diverse personalities propel the plot. For instance, when they pull up to the estate's mansion, 10-year-old Jane feels certain she has spied a "lonely boy" in a window and promptly begins a novel about him once they reach their cottage. Skye, 11, elated to have her own room with two beds (she plans to use both), immediately "wrote the bed schedule next to her favorite word problem about trains traveling in different directions." Batty, a shy four-year-old, faithfully wears her butterfly wings and is devoted to her dog, Hound (who "insisted on licking faces in the middle of the night"). The girls' loving, amusingly distracted father is a botany professor with a fondness for spouting Latin phrases. Rosalind, the oldest at 12, has looked after the others since their mother's death (shortly after Batty's birth), and when she meets gentle Cagney, the estate's teenage gardener, he captures her heart. The "lonely boy" turns out to be sensitive, sincere Jeffrey, a talented musician. Tension arises when Jeffrey's pretentious mother and her fianc? decide to send the boy to military school. Certain to be as sorry as the sisters are when it's time to leave Arundel, readers will hope for a return visit from this memorable cast. Ages 8-12. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-6-In Jeanne Birdsall's humorous novel (Knopf, 2005), four motherless sisters-Rosalind, 12, Skye, 11, Jane, 10, and Batty, 4-their absentminded professor dad, and the family dog share a summer retreat on the Massachusetts estate of Arundel. Owned by the frosty Mrs. Tifton and her lonely son, Jeffrey, Arundel's pretentious mistress treats the oddly-matched Penderwick sisters and their doting father as social misfits. Feisty Skye and sensitive Jeffrey become best friends, drawing the reluctant Mrs. Tifton and the entire Penderwick clan into a series of hilarious misadventures, including runaway pets, an encounter with a bull, and a first crush. The sisters are determined to help Jeffrey escape being sent to the Pencey Military Academy, "Where boys become men and men become soldiers." Susan Denaker's gentle narration of this 2005 National Book Award winner perfectly captures the subtle humor and charm of each character. Fans of Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family or Maud Hart's Betsy-Tacy novels will love this updated version of a comfortable childhood adventure. Just the ticket for an extended family car trip.-Celeste Steward, Alameda County Library, Fremont, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Also making an appearance are a lonely young boy and a dependable yet dopey dog. Birdsall excels in developing characters, and her motley crew grows and develops in intriguing ways in this deeply enjoyable story of family and friendship. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.