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The Penderwicks Chapter Books

Author Jeanne Birdsall once said that her ideal book would include “loving families and siblings that got along.” This sentiment essentially summarizes Birdsall’s delightful quartet of volumes that make up the bestselling Penderwicks series.

The Penderwicks A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy book cover

Who Are the Penderwicks?

The Penderwicks series centers around four sisters (Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty), their devoted dog (the lovable Hound), and their widowed father. Mr. Penderwick is absorbed in his own Latin-speaking world of botanicals, which generally leaves his daughters to their own interests, adventures, and activities.

Although set in the 21st century, the series has a timeless, classic feel that has proven appealing to readers. And it’s probably precisely because this type of book is so unusual in today’s publishing world that the Penderwicks have enjoyed such widespread popularity. Success came quickly with the first volume published in 2005, which won the National Book Award and is a New York Times bestseller. All together, the series has sold over one million copies.

You have to love a book that takes place in a perfect storybook setting. As Birdsall writes: “Arundel Cottage was not only yellow, it was the creamiest, butteriest yellow the Penderwicks had ever seen. It was all a cottage is supposed to be, small and snug, with a front porch, pink climbing roses, and lots of trees for shade.”

Now that sounds like an ideal place to spend the summer—or a few hours of delightful reading.

Take our free Penderwicks Checklist to your local library!

About the Author

Jeanne Birdsall didn’t begin writing until she was in her forties, but since then, she has penned the four Penderwicks volumes as well as a trio of sweet picture books.

Birdsall’s style is charming and comfortable. The characters are engaging—Batty in particular is delightfully memorable—and there are gentle infusions of humor that keep readers chuckling as the stories unfold. Fans of books by Louisa May Alcott, L. M. Montgomery, Noel Streatfeild, and Elizabeth Enright will notice definite similarities between the Penderwicks series and these beloved classics.

Birdsall also has the enviable ability to weave believable and relatable characters into clever and engaging storylines. Her books are, by turns, humorous, heartwarming, and highly entertaining.

About the Books

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette book cover

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, opens as the Penderwick sisters embark on a three-week holiday in New England, where they meet new friends Jeffrey and Cagney. Trouble arrives in the form of Jeffrey’s self-centered and controlling mother who plans to ship Jeffrey off to military school. Add in Cagney’s adorable pet rabbits, Jane’s ambition to be a writer, and Churchie—the lovable housekeeper—and you have a book with all the ingredients for success.

In The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, the sisters return home to Massachusetts and the problems immediately begin: Jane and Skye decide to switch homework assignments, Rosalind can’t stop arguing with her friend Tommy, and Batty is scared of a mysterious man that everyone else assumes is just in her imagination. But these problems seem inconsequential when they learn that their father intends to begin dating again. The girls concoct a plan to make sure they don’t wind up with an unpleasant stepmotherbut will it work?

Another summer finds The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, where the sisters—minus Rosalind, who is taking a separate vacation—are spending another memorable summer vacation. Skye reluctantly accepts the responsibility of being in charge, Jane is determined to research romance for her latest novel, and Batty discovers that she has a talent for music. When their idyllic summer begins to crumble, it’s up to Skye to save the day.

In book four, The Penderwicks in Spring, the point of view shifts to Batty, now ten, and introduces us to the fifth and newest Penderwick sister, Lydia, born to Mr. Penderwick and the girls’ new stepmother, Iantha. Although perhaps more emotional than the previous volumes in the series, this book is both heartwarming and satisfying.

Lydia takes center stage in book five, The Penderwicks At Last. In this long-awaited conclusion to the series, the Penderwicks return to Arundel for a family wedding. Booklist, in a starred review, called this book “a fitting end to a much-praised series.”

The Penderwicks Series at a Glance

The Penderwicks Series on Gardam Street book cover

Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Genre: children’s fiction, humor
Interests: family life, friendship, childhood, growing up
Suggested age range: 8 and up
Gender preference: girls
In the series: 5 books, over 300 pages each.

The Penderwicks Series Library Checklist

The Penderwicks series library checklist download

Do your kids need a little extra encouragement to read? Take our The Penderwicks Series checklist to your local library and have your child check off books as he reads them.

Looking for more great chapter books? We’ve got you covered!

FREE Chapter Book Library Lists

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Leave a Comment

Sarah Motlong

says:

I was fortunate enough to score the Penderwicks in Spring at a local thrift store, would it do to begin with the fourth in the series or must one begin with reading The Penderwicks?! TIA!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
I am not an authority on The Penderwicks, as I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but from what I understand each book stands alone well. The children age with each title, but I think it would be fine read The Penderwicks in the Spring and go back later and enjoy the children when they are younger.

Hopefully, someone that has read all four titles can offer further insight.

Danielle

says:

Thank you for this book review!

Sherry

says:

This series sounds like a good fit for my girls. They will try reading any book that has animals in it. The first book does. Even if the others do not, they may already be hooked.

Rebekah

says:

These sound delightful & like something I would have loved as a kid!! I’ll look forward to reading them in a few years with my own kids.

SHANNON SOEHL

says:

This might be something my reluctant reader would enjoy.

Lacy van Vuuren

says:

Thank you for the recommendation. I will look for these at our library. I was on the lookout for some good read-aloud books. We just finished the whole Little House series.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lacy,
Farmer Boy is one of my family’s favorite read alouds ever! I hope you enjoy the Penderwicks too.

Stephanie

says:

I’ll be honest and say, that while we did enjoy these books, I didn’t love them. My kids listened to them all, but haven’t asked for them again. But I’m choosy about my books, and definitely biased toward older books.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for your honest review, Stephanie. Not every book can be a hit, and not every family agrees about books.

Erica

says:

About a year ago I checked out the audiobook from the library, and gave it to my two oldest kids (10 and 8) to listen to during quiet times/bedtime. My 8 year old son really enjoyed it, but we had to return it before he finished listening to it. Thanks for putting it back on the radar. We’ll be checking it out again!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Erica,
I’m happy to hear that we aren’t the only family that struggles to finish books before they are due. We go through a lot of books, be we aren’t quick. If it wasn’t for the ability to renew books two times, for up to a total of a 9 week check out, there would be more books getting returned unfinished than finished from our home.

Cindy

says:

Thanks for this! I am always looking out for well written and age appropriate chapter books for my daughter.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Cindy. I hope she enjoys it!

Jenny

says:

Thanks for the tip! I am always looking for good books for my oldest son.

Steph

says:

My kids LOVE the Penderwicks!

Jennifer

says:

My daughter loves the Penderwicks SO much that she is begging for the set for Christmas!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

That is a true indication of how great a set of books are, Jennifer!

Salina Cook

says:

Going to try these! Thanks so much for the recommendation!

Lauren

says:

Always looking for book suggestions. We will have to look into these!

Annette

says:

Good ideas

Martha England

says:

I’ve not heard of these before. I will check my library and give them a try!

Karen Watson

says:

Looking forward to reading these with my girls.

jennifer

says:

My daughter loved reading the Penderwicks!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Jennifer!

Fayrooz

says:

I will definitely see if our library has it!

Natalie M

says:

Sounds like a fun series! Immediately made me think of Little Women, which I loved as a girl.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Natalie,
I agree. It does sound like Little Women!

Katrina

says:

My daughter has been looking for a new series/author to read. I will have to see if these are at our library!

Donna

says:

My kids adored the first book. We can’t wait to read another!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It’s good to hear your kids adored the first book, Donna! It seems those that have read any of this series really enjoy it.

Jen

says:

Never read this but I’ve kept hearing about it so will have to give it a try.

Courtney

says:

These look like great books! Going to pick them up next time we are at the library.

Shelley Gehman

says:

These look wonderful! I’m anxious to use these!

Janna

says:

Sounds great!

Erin

says:

I love great books!

Teresa

says:

Love the Penderwicks! Our whole family, daughter, sons, dad and grandma too.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thanks for the whole family recommendation, Teresa!

Sherry Salter

says:

This looks like a good series to suggest to my sister who has a 10 yr old girl.

Crystal Reagan

says:

Thanks for the recommendation – I’m always looking for good books for my children.

Krystal

says:

Oh what fun!

Courtneay Zeek

says:

Great tags always captivate the hearts and minds of our children! Thanks for the recommendation!

Rachel

says:

Thanks for the recommendation! I will definetly be checking these out at the library :)

Robyn Savage

says:

I must remember to take this list with me to the library this week! My second grader loves having me read chapter books to her now and we are running out of quality ones for her level at home. Thanks for this post!

Stephanie Devine

says:

I love that you are recommending good literature. Can you recommend anything for boys?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Stephanie,
Many have commented on this blog post telling us that their sons have thoroughly enjoyed The Penderwicks series. Your sons may too. Great books can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter the gender of the main characters.

However, if your boys need boy main characters, then Encyclopedia Brown might entice them. The Mysterious Benedict Society series has a mix of male and female protagonists. Lastly, the main character in Redwall is a male, although he’s a male mouse.

Paige

says:

Thank you so much for all these suggestions. Good books can be hard to find. I’ll be putting these on my library list!

Jessica

says:

Another series to add to our growing read aloud list! Our days are so enjoyable when my children and myself can get lost in a world outside of our walls, taking the journey as a family makes it all the more exciting. We look forward to seeing how the Penderwicks adventures pan out. Thank you!

Hadley Coble

says:

I got these on cd for my dd last Christmas and both of my daughters have listened to them numerous times. I have another audio copy on hold at the library :) I enjoyed them as well!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ooo, great to hear the audiobooks are good too! Thank you, Hadley.

Heather

says:

We have just recently discovered the Penderwick books at my house. The similarities in writing style to Louisa May Alcott & others have delighted me, reminding me of the stories I loved as a child. I have been amazed at how much my boys, ranging in age from 4-14, have really been engaged by these stories as well. The Penderwick sisters have such wonderful adventures and the good morals & character that are infused in every story are a wonderful benefit. I would recommend these books to anyone!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Heather,
You are making me want to read these books right away! Thank you.

Kristi

says:

My daughter loves stories about families, thank you for this recommendation.

Rebekah Schloemann

says:

We love reading out loud but haven’t read these yet! My kids are a still little, but I’ll keep these in mind.

Jill

says:

I can’t wait for mu daughter to read these! It can be hard to find good new literature for kids these days!

Katie

says:

I have two girls, ages 8 & 10, and I think they would love this series! Thank you for the recommendation. It is beneficial to gather titles appropriate, yet engaging, for this age range. Thanks!

clc

says:

Thank You!

Beth

says:

It’s great to hear you recommending these books! I got the first one out of the library last summer with thoughts for using as a read-aloud, but after looking it over, I decided it was just a little too old for my kids. Hopefully this summer or next, we’ll get into it!

Alyssa

says:

These sound delightful!

This sounds like a fun series. I’m always looking for new series to entice my kiddos to read.

Cindy

says:

These look really good and engaging. I can’t wait to read them with my child.

Carrie B.

says:

I really wish I had girls that would be interested in this series – because I want to get them for myself. I may just have to get them anyway, and make my four boys suffer through the reading. ;)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Carrie,
If you scroll through the comments on this post, you will see a couple of reports of boys loving this series. The main characters my be girls, but the have interesting adventures that anyone can enjoy!

Karen

says:

Love hearing about new books!

T Nic

says:

What a complete joy to read to my kiddos. Good literature is so nourishing to their souls!

Alicia

says:

These look so good! I look forward to reading them with my kids.

Debby

says:

Looking forward to reading this series~ thank you for introducing it to us!

Rochelle Murdock

says:

Ooo…these books look interesting for my girls.

Abbi

says:

This is definitely going on my to read list… I’ll just have to wait a couple of years until my daughter is ready. 😪. Thanks for the recommendation!

Elisha Joy Berger

says:

Looks like a good series can’t wait to read them with my kids.

Laura

says:

We cannot wait to read Jeane Birdsall’s books!So, happy this popped into my email today!

Melanie

says:

Looks great thanks for sharing!

H. Burgess

says:

This is the series that turned my struggling, uninterested, reader into one who’s listened to each of the books in the series via Audible more times than I can count, and actually ASKED for me to find the written copy in the library for her to READ! So thankful for the engaging stories you’ve shared!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for this wonderful recommendation!

Heather

says:

This is so great! I’m hoping my 3rd grader will really be inspired to read more. Thanks

Tresa

says:

This sounds like a wonderful series!

Jill

says:

Thank you for letting us know about good books for our girls. We will be getting the first one from the library the next time we go. I always appreciate your desire to help our children learn.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Jill. I, too, was happy to find that my library had this series.

Dawn

says:

Thanks for the details of these books, I will definitely be checking them out from my local library in hopes to gain my reluctant readers approval & love of reading.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Dawn,
You might find our blog post titled “Is the Matthew Effect Affecting Your Child’s Desire to Read?” to be helpful. I know I did when I had three reluctant readers on my hand a little over a year ago.

While finding great books to grab a reluctant reader’s attention is important, it is just one of many things you need to do to turn a reluctant reader into a willing one. I made reading daily a priority, both me reading aloud to them and them reading aloud to me. It took time, but just this evening I walked out of the back room and found all three of them with their noses happily buried in books.

Kellie Luty

says:

Love these books! I read them to my 5 kids and they all enjoyed them, the boys and the girls alike. They are a lot of fun.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for letting us know that your family enjoyed this series, Kellie!

Katherine

says:

So happy to know of a quality series of books for 8 and up that even I will enjoy reading!

Jen W

says:

I’m going to look into these. Thanks!

Brigitte Brorman

says:

It’s exciting to have a suggestion for a set of books that my little girl might get hooked on and want to continue. We have a decent collection of books, but not any series yet.

Lydia

says:

This is a helpful review!

Kim

says:

We loved this series. My boys were 11 and 12 at the time and it wasn’t a boy book at all but this story held their interest and became a favorite within the first chapter. I was surprised how much they liked it.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for this review, Kim. I haven’t gotten to these books yet myself, but I always wonder about books that are labeled as “girl” or “boy” books. A great story should be enjoyable to either gender.

My very boyish boys were telling me just a few days ago how much they loved when I read A Little Princess to them, a pale pink book with roses and a girl in a party dress on the front. They know a great story when they hear it, and it doesn’t matter who the main character is. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter WHAT the main character is, as another family favorite is Along Came a Dog, which has a dog and a hen as the main characters.

Sam Nortje

says:

This looks like such a lovely range of books! Never mind my child, I think I would like them for me! :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I agree, Sam! My favorite C. S. Lewis quote is, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

Lesley

says:

Thank you! We are always looking for good chapter books!

Molly

says:

I can’t wait another year until my daughter is ready to read these. I might start now by reading them aloud to her. They sound delightful!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Molly,
Reading them aloud is probably better anyway. That way you both can enjoy them together!

Kristin

says:

I’m always looking for family read alouds that are of substance. Thanks for the recommendation!

Ashley

says:

I think a lot of children aren’t given good instruction on loving their siblings.

Sarah T.

says:

I’ve never eardrum of these before. They sound like a great family read aloud choice!

Ashley

says:

I can’t wait to get my hands on these books for my daughters! We love family read aloud time and these sound like a perfect pick. I adore strong, loving families and the blessing of siblings.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It sounds like these books will be just the thing for you, Ashley!

M daniel

says:

I just got the first book in the series for my daughter. Excited to use this checklist resource.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Let us know how your daughter likes it!

Keri

says:

We love good books that show how family members should be treated!

Jessica C.

says:

My ideal books would also have siblings who get slong! So tired of books which portray family dysfunction as normal and siblings as a curse!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, I agree, Jessica!

Shannon

says:

These books sound magical. They would be great for my daughter.

Rachel Neufeld

says:

These books look like so much fun! Will be looking into getting them for my reader.

Lacey

says:

I love reading about new books to try out…book recommendations are my favorite:))!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I agree, Lacey!

Michelle D.

says:

Can’t wait to read these!

Becky C.

says:

Sounds like something we’d love to read- definitely checking out!

Brandy

says:

I will have to check this series out!

Sara

says:

I am not familiar with this series and it sounds like one that my children would enjoy!

Anita Z

says:

Have never heard of this series!! Thanks! We are always looking for new books!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Anita,
I hadn’t heard of them either, and I am especially intrigued with the idea of focusing on kids adventures but set in modern times. I hope we both enjoy these books as much as our reviewer did!

Stephani

says:

I have heard of these but haven’t read them, on the list they go!

Lindsey

says:

Thanks for the review!

Deirdre

says:

This book series sounds interesting. I had never heard of them before! I might have to check them out for my kids.

Jamie Garcia

says:

Wow cool! We have 4 daughters so this will be going on the list. Thanks for the recommendation!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jamie! Have fun.

Sarah Mason

says:

I have heard about these books and I am thankful for the review. I will see if my library has them.

Thanks for the book review.

Elena Taylor

says:

A classic feel with a 21st century…I was looking for a series that could do this! Thank you! Looking it up at our library now.

Wendy Clark

says:

Thank you for this recommendation. Sounds like fun reading!

Maritza Lopez

says:

I’ve never heard of these, looking forward to checking them out!

Janet Howder

says:

We listened to the first three books on audio during our most two driving vacations. I don’t think we quite finished the third one before pulling in our driveway so we will start there on the next one. The whole family enjoyed these books from my husband and I , our teen boys, pre-teen boys and our 7 year old daughter. It’s a great series!

Nancy S.

says:

Though my sons are not bothered reading about female heroines, I wish that some of the Penderwick siblings were brothers, because I believe that loving family relationships among boys is really, really important. We’ve loved the Boxcar children for the wonderful role models of brothers AND sisters getting along and respecting one another. We will likely still read the Penderwick series together, though. Thanks for the recommendation.

Jennifer Mathesz

says:

love new titles

Aimee Wutka

says:

I can’t wait to read these with my kids!

Angela

says:

Sounds like a fun series. Thanks!

Amanda

says:

My son isn’t quite old enough for these , but I will keep them in mind when he is 🙂

Tara

says:

These look great! I want to read them for me :) hopefully I can remember them in a couple years when my little ones are more ready for them :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

That’s a tricky one, Tara! I have found Pinterest and OneNote to be good places to save things for future ideas. I’m not organized enough to keep paper notes for future reminders.

Julie

says:

Sounds good!

Alexa Humphries

says:

Always needing something new for my reader to enjoy.. I look forward to hearing how she likes these books.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Alexa,
Let us know what she thinks of them too. We love to hear student feedback of the titles recommend.

Christine Nadolny

says:

This series looks fun. Will put on our library list to check out.

Pam

says:

Interesting

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