Today, you have the privilege of hearing from one of my good book blogging friends, Amanda, from A Patchwork of Books. Number 48 on our Top 100 Children’s Books list is one of her favorites and I am delighted that she wanted to share some of thoughts on her love for this book.
My love for The Penderwicks started just this past summer, on a road trip home to Upstate NY. For the past couple of years I had been told by dozens of friends/bloggers/librarians that I needed to read the book and that I would absolutely, without-a-doubt fall in love with it, but until this particular trip, just hadn’t been motivated to do so. I think I was almost afraid that it would be one of those books that just didn’t live up to all the hype. All it took was seven hours in the car with the audiobook, read by Susan Denaker, and I was smitten with four girls, their father, and a dog. The Penderwicks captured my heart.
The adventures the four sisters encounter while on their summer vacation reminds me so much of the time I spent running around on my own summer vacations. There certainly weren’t computers or XBox systems or Ipads while I was growing up and since my mother was a single parent, money was scarce. My brother and I were encouraged to spend our days outside, using our imaginations and playing with what we had. In our case, it was a huge cow pasture directly behind our house, scattered with trees and streams (and cows, of course). We had more adventures in that cow pasture than I could ever remember and though the cows always stayed far away from us, they were always central characters in our stories.
I think the pure simplicity of the story is what really made me fall in love with The Penderwicks and its characters. Such innocence is displayed on the pages and in such a realistic way. I love that the girls’ father has this loving, supportive way about him, while letting each girl become their own person. The dialog is done beautifully and I found myself both tearing up and laughing while driving my car along Route 15, up to the boonies of NY. The girls and their antics stayed with me throughout my entire vacation and helped me to remember a time when my life was simpler and more innocent.
When life gets too crazy and I start to get overwhelmed, I flip through the pages of The Penderwicks (because, of course I own a copy now) and try to remember simplicity…imagination…pure happiness. Jeanne Birdsall put into words something that I never thought could be written. She gave me a look back at my childhood and made me feel so blessed to have been raised in the way that I was. All children should get to experience a summer like Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty did and even in the midst of electronic overload, I hope kids will indeed get that summer vacation.
by Jeanne Birdsall
Originally published in 2005