The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

I think I enjoyed this book a lot more than my kids did. The oldest says he liked it, but I could tell he was ready to move on to something else.

It’s not much of a story. If someone asked what the plot is I’d have trouble piecing it together. The four girls and their loveable, but out to lunch, father stay in the cottage on an property of some gazillionaire woman who (even though she has enough money to have maids and a full time 15 year old expert orphan gardener…you know the more I type the more ridiculous it sounds) complains about the cost of golf clubs.

What does this woman do for a living? Nothing. How is she so rich? Because her dad was a colonel. My dad was a colonel and we don’t own an estate. So quite frankly I just ignored that part of the story, because it’s kind of irrelevant.

Ms. Birdsall gets away with her absurdities because she writes so effortlessly. The words flow, never feeling forced. The children are ridiculous in the way only fiction children can be. They all have their one peculiarity that defines their entire existence. The oldest is the mom, since theirs died. The other does math for fun. One writes books and lives in a world of make-believe. And the last has a dog that has a sixth sense and always knows when the girl is in distress.

I want to gag just reading those descriptions, but, BUT, somehow she gets away with it because Birdsall is such a good writer.

I highly recommend this book, although I’d caution that there are some boy/girl scenes involving the orphan gardner that I skipped over. I don’t know why authors feel the need to write love stories into books for middle grade kids.

5 stars.

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