If you’re looking for my own personal thoughts on The Penderwicks on Gardham Street, I’m afraid you’re not going to find them here. I have not yet read the book, because it’s been in such high demand by others working at or reviewing galleys for our store! One of the latter is 14-year-old Caroline Joyce, a student at Wellesley Middle School who is currently reading through the galleys in my office at a speed several times my own. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on this particular ARC! What follows is Caroline’s wonderfully enthusiastic review. (And, YES, there are SPOILERS here! Consider yourself warned.)
I first discovered The Penderwicks about a year ago. My family was on a long plane ride and I was bored. My mom, who thinks of everything, had gone to the library and gotten us books, and I the moody teenager had discarded most of the ones that she brought along. I am not a good person when I am bored. I whine, and I get grumpy. As a last resort my mom handed me The Penderwicks, thinking maybe I’d like it. I loved it!
Imagine my surprise then, when I’m downstairs in Alison’s Cave of Wonders (otherwise known as her office and galley storeroom) and see the galley for the sequel, The Penderwicks on Gardham Street!!
I have finals to study for but the book sits on the corner of my desk almost beckoning to me. I swear I can hear it speaking. At 10:00pm my resistance breaks down and I just have to read it! Sadly at 11:30pm I have to put down this amazing and marvelous book because my parents are starting to get a little annoyed, and I really don’t feel like pulling a Harry Potter (784 pages in 6 hours – I think that’s a record!). The next day I finally finish the book in an hour.
This book starts off with the Penderwick family back at home on Gardam Street. (Hence the title The Penderwicks on Gardam Street.) Rosalind the oldest is 12, then comes Skye the sporty one (age 10), followed by her creative sister Jane (a mature 9), and, last but not least, Batty, who is only 4 years old but has quite a mastery of the English language.
Since their mother died 4 years ago it’s just been the sisters and their dad, until Aunt Claire comes with a letter telling Mr. Penderwick that he must date again. The letter, of course, is from the girls’ dead mother (which I just think is morbid, but anyway…). No one in the family is happy about this idea, except for Aunt Claire who seems just a little too excited about it. Rosalind in particular seems a little shaken; she obviously still has some grief issues.
In the sequel we are introduced to many new characters, including a new neighbor who is a single mother and works at the University with Mr. Penderwick. (He’s a botanist while she specializes in astrophysics.) Yes, you may be thinking, “This is a book about Mr. Penderwick starting to date, right? And there is a single mother living next door to him who also works at the same place as him? I think I know what happens!” You know what! You’re right! The ending of this book is very predictable but that’s what makes it so awesome!
There are other neighbors in the book, the Geigers to be exact. Nick is a senior in high school and a football player while Tommy is Rosalind’s age. (Cue Donny Osmond: “And they calllll ittttt PUUUUUUUUPPPPYYYY LLLLLLLOOOOOVVVVVVE!!!”)
When the girls really do start confiding in their neighbor they come to think of her as a mother figure, which turns into a “Let’s set Daddy up with Ms. Aaronson!” plan. It’s a bit quick, this change of heart, but what the heck! Ms. Birdsall can pull it off. There is also a bit of a side story in which there is a creepy stalker guy trying to steal Ms. Aaronson’s work, but the girls plus Tommy pull off some amazing superhero stunts that are so cool that they’re almost unbelievable yet still made me want to sign up for Tae Kwon Doe lessons.
Throughout the entire book you will be laughing and cheering along with the Penderwicks and their extended family. I now randomly quote the book, much to the annoyance of my friends, he he he.
While the book says that it is for those aged 8-12 I think that it is for anyone and everyone. I am 14 and still loved it more then most books out there (e.g. Gossip Girl.) Personally I think that the second Penderwick book is the best, and now I am just waiting for the third!