139

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

All About Learning Press, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. All proceeds from our partnership with Amazon.com will be donated to local libraries.

Share This:

< Previous Post  Next Post >

Leave a Comment

Nicole

says:

We listened to the first Penderwicks book a few years ago when my older two were about 8 to 9 and 6 to 7. While I really loved the premise of the book and the writing style, I was not pleased with some of the content. If I remember correctly there was a situation that the kids all chose to keep from their father, as well as a chapter all about the oldest daughter being obsessed with kissing. I did not like the message that it is ok to keep important things from parents. Thankfully the kissing chapter is easy enough to skip without missing too much from the book.

Overall, we did love the story, and my kids still quote lines from it 2 to 3 years later. I would just recommend it for older children or edit as you read aloud.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for pointing this out, Nicole.

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.

Leave a Comment