I stumbled upon The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy while browsing the juvenile section of my local library. And what a great find!
"Meet the Penderwicks, four different sisters with one special bond. There’s responsible, practical Rosalind; stubborn, feisty Skye; dreamy, artistic Jane; and shy little sister Batty, who won't go anywhere without her butterfly wings. When the girls and their doting father head off for their summer holiday, they're in for a surprise. Instead of the tumbledown cottage they expected, they find themselves on a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon the girls are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel's sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the most wonderful discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel's owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures..." (synopsis courtesy of Jeanne Birdsall's website.)
Published in 2005, The Penderwicks is the first in a current series of five books by Jeanne Birdsall and a National Book Award winner (2005). Although intended for children ages 9-12 I still found it a book adults could enjoy. At 262 pages it makes for a reasonably fast read, though obviously not quite as fast for younger readers.
Mrs. Birdsall's writing is simple, but clear and creative and she keeps the story believable. When one character faces several difficult problems, Mrs. Birdsall doesn't make them magically go away, but has them dealt with in a true to life and age appropriate way leaving an ending that is satisfying and believable. I really enjoyed The Pendericks; it was a fun read.
Currently Ms. Birdsall is writing the third book in the series. I look forward to reading more of the Penderwicks adventures and plan to read her second book, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (published this year), before the third book is released.
As a side note, The Penderwicks reminded me of another book I read earlier this year (pre-blog, so sorry no review), which was Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott. So if you've enjoyed one, you may very well enjoy the other. Although, I did find Under the Lilacs a little slow at times.
As I mentioned above, I borrowed my copy of The Penderwicks from the library, but it may be one that readers with children in their home may wish to add to their library. On a scale of 1 to 5 (one being horrible and five being excellent), I would rate this book a 4. I really enjoyed it.