Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Penderwicks

The title: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy
The author: Jeanne Birdsall
Publication: Alfred A. Knopf
Got it from: La Library

I've just finished reading this book and it reminds me a lot of those old-fashioned kids' books I used to read over the summer holidays. There's a few references to modern things like computers, but other than that it could easily take place in the 1950's. It concerns four sisters: Rosalind, the oldest and mothering one; Skye, the brainy, math-loving and temperamental sister; Jane, who's forever composing stories in her head and loves soccer; and Batty, whose name pretty much describes her personality (she's always wearing butterfly wings).

In this adventure, their father takes them to the Berkshire Mountains for a three-week holiday (their mother is dead, natch) and they end up befriending the rich, lonely boy whose family owns the estate their cottage is on. Cue various wholesome adventures, including catching runaway rabbits and shooting arrows at cardboard cutouts of their enemies. There's more than a hint of homage to the first few chapters of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Rosalind's unrequited crush on a local teenage boy reads almost exactly like that of Nora's in Kit Pearson's brilliant Looking at the Moon (complete with the dramatic heartbreak scene). If you like your summer days filled with nostalgic fun and your villains literally mustache-twirling, you could do a lot worse than this.

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