I’m really learning a lot about what might attract adult readers to children’s books through this Top 100 Chapter Books project. Sometimes a book simply sticks with the reader through the years because of fond memories, strong characters and unforgettable adventures. Other times, a book that one comes across later in life makes a lasting impression, either on the adult reader or on the children they read with. Number 29 on the list is 2005’s The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall and it is quite easy to figure out why this book would resonate with readers of all ages and become an instant classic.
What it’s about: Luckily this book has a great subtitle that lets the reader know a bit about the story — it’s summer, and the four Penderwick sisters, ages 4 to 12, (along with Dad and dog) rent a guest house on a large property owned by a woman and her “very interesting” son … and there’s a carriage house with a young gardener and his two rabbits! But that’s not all … there’s first love and some impromptu sporting events and a budding novelist and lots of ups and downs for these five amazing kids.
Age level: Grades 3-6
Best part: This story just felt so REAL that it was both fun and painful to read. It really felt like being a kid again — spending summers with my siblings, falling in love for the first time (complete with details of the unrequited variety) and panicking when a younger sibling goes missing, among other things.
Worst part: That the summer vacation had to end. (It’s the worst part of the book and the worst part of life in general!)
I didn’t have time to read the Penderwick sequels yet but I definitely plan to at some point, maybe next summer! I don’t know if the family will be going back to the cottage at Arundel again but I’m kind of hoping that they have adventures elsewhere (though Jeffrey would have to be invited too!).
My next read is The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, first in The Chronicles of Pyrdain series. I’ve actually bought the series without having ever read any of it because it’s a favorite for so many fantasy readers.
(And if you’re still creating your RIP VIII reading list, consider adding one or both of my October reads to your list — it’s all about the witches this year!)
Schedule – September through December
note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after
September 15 - #18 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (1964)
September 30 – #59 The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (2006)
October 15 – #36 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1958)
October 31 – #81 The Witches by Roald Dahl (1983)
November 15 – #56 A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1905)
November 30 – #73 The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (1972)
December 15 – #78 Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (1936)
December 31 – Winter Break!