“The Penderwick Family was being torn apart,” begins this third entry in Jeanne Birdsall’s always delightful Penderwick series (the first having won the National Book Award). For three of the four energetic Penderwick sisters, this means spending two weeks with their Aunt Claire at Point Mouette, Maine, while their father and his new wife are honeymooning in England. The oldest daughter, Rosalind, will be separated from her sisters for the first time as she heads to the New Jersey shore with a classmate.
Skye is worried that she doesn’t have what it takes to be OAP (Oldest Available Penderwick). Her OAP-dom is indeed tested when five-year-old Batty needs constant supervision and Aunt Claire sprains her ankle, requiring help from Alec, the musician next door. Meanwhile, Jane, usually content to pen Sabrina Starr tales, falls in love for the first time and experiences writer’s block, causing no-nonsense, budding astrophysicist Skye to muse, “Killer asteroids, a frozen Earth, the end to humanity—all this was much easier to handle than a besotted sister.” Yet perhaps the biggest surprise in this summer of adventures is when some of the Penderwicks begin to notice that their musically talented friend Jeffrey, who has never known his biological father, resembles Alec.
Amid the beauty of New England, where a moose and her twin babies make appearances, time seems to slow down, with only a brief mention of a cell phone to remind readers that The Penderwicks at Point Mouette takes place in the present day. With exquisite descriptions, charms reminiscent of a bygone era and the Penderwicks’ endearing loyalty, Birdsall’s gentle stories—destined to become classics—continue to get better. Readers can only hope that her best one yet isn’t her last.
Music and melodrama waft on the ocean breezes as the Penderwicks spend time on the Maine coast, in the third installment about this charming family.ÃÂ
Well, most of the Penderwicks. Dad's on his honeymoon; eldest sister Rosalind is away at the Jersey shore. Joining the three remaining sisters and their beloved aunt is dear friend Jeffrey, introduced in the first novel. Skye, second eldest, is now overseer of her sisters and isn't happy about it, especially when the third, Jane, develops a crush on a most unworthy boy. Then Batty, the youngest, confounds everyone by discovering musical talent that no Penderwick has ever displayed. Most dramatic of all is the startling revelation that slowly reveals itself in the musician living next door. Readers who enjoyed the previous books (The Penderwicks,ÃÂ 2005;ÃÂ The Penderwicks on Gardam Street,ÃÂ 2008) will like this one, too, because of its cozy familiarity, and Birdsall writes with a warm, sure hand. The girls are, as usual, kind, endearing, self-possessed, self-aware andÃÂ comforting.ÃÂ Readers will also be happy, though wary, about the surprise disclosure but will likely see it coming. That's OK. Penderwick fans like their stories old-fashioned, replete with coincidences and gently soap-opera–esque elements.
Somewhere, there are families like the Penderwicks. Lucky them. The rest of us just get to read about them. Lucky us.ÃÂ (Fiction. 9-12)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
The Penderwick sisters' third adventure brings them back in full entertaining force, despite the absence of their father, who is honeymooning in England, and Rosalind, who's vacationing with a friend in New Jersey. Birdsall fills the gaps in the family ranks with several new characters that the three remaining sisters meet while on a seaside Maine vacation with good-natured Aunt Claire and their beloved friend, Jeffrey. Friendly next-door neighbor Alec, an accomplished musician, takes musical prodigy Jeffrey under his wing, and the children also meet two siblings who are visiting their innkeeper grandparents: Dominic becomes the amusingly ill-fated love interest of aspiring romance writer Jane, and Mercedes is a suitably feisty friend for irrepressible Batty. With Rosalind away, Skye agonizes over her role as OAP (Oldest Available Penderwick), fretting that she won't be able "to keep Batty alive and undamaged for two weeks." Balancing the novel's comedy is an affecting, neatly crafted subplot that builds up to the emotionally charged revelation involving Jeffrey. From start to finish, this is a summer holiday to savor. Ages 8-12. (May)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 5-8--With Father and Iantha and little stepbrother Ben off to England for a honeymoon, and Rosalind away at the Jersey shore, Skye is feeling the heavy responsibility of being the OAP (Oldest Available Penderwick) as she, Jane, Batty, and their friend Jeffrey head to Maine with Aunt Claire for two weeks. Disaster strikes early on when Aunt Claire severely sprains her ankle. Fortunately, a kindly and interesting neighbor, Alec McGrath, and his friend Turron Asabere, both musicians, step in to help. Nevertheless, Skye is still feeling stressed and inadequate, concerned about Batty's safety near the water and exasperated by Jane, who is struggling with her latest Sabrina Starr novel, intended to be a love story requiring a survey on the subject from everyone she meets. Jane's own first love is an annoying skateboarder, Dominic, whose only saving grace is his endearing little sister, Mercedes. But, as Jeffrey is drawn to Alec and his piano, and Batty, too, discovers her own budding musical talent, the vacation is progressing nicely until Jane's chopping off her hair in response to Dominic's rejection sets off a chain of events with dramatic and heart-wrenching consequences. The plot pivots on an almost incredible coincidence, but Birdsall's skillful handling so engulfs readers that it comes across as entirely possible, and the resolution is totally satisfying. This continuation of the Penderwick family saga has all the fine qualities of the previous books: well-drawn, distinctive characters; humor, both subtle and hilarious; rich language; and an engrossing, well-paced narrative. While it stands alone, readers will eagerly look forward to the next installment.--Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY[Page 92]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.