Just a couple of weeks ago, Jenny of Jenny’s Books reviewed the third in the wonderful Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall. Almost the first books I reviewed on this blog were the first two of these, back in 2008! I hadn’t known another one was coming out, and so as soon as I was done squealing with glee, I dashed to the library to get my copy, and as I suspected, I wasn’t disappointed.
In this book, the four sisters are split up for vacation — Rosalind, the oldest, gets a break from the others, and the younger three go to Maine with their favorite aunt and, of course, Hound. The action of the book is only two weeks long, but it feels as sweetly stretched-out as taffy, the way good vacations always do: you meet new people and swear eternal friendship; you eat on the beach and get sand in odd places; you learn how to play a new card game and do the same puzzles over and over; you promise yourself you’ll write every day, but somehow it doesn’t happen; one corner of the cabin becomes yours and yours alone, and you remember it forever.
These books are truly wonderful. There’s no magic here, no spells, no Psammeads, no boggarts, no mysteries to solve. But the relationships between the sisters are real and sweet as a nut, and it’s funny without being manic and sweet without being soppy. It’s a book about children being children — one of my favorite genres, in the tradition of the Melendy family books by Elizabeth Enright, or The Moffats, by Eleanor Estes. Jenny points out in her review that some of the characters are drawn rather broadly, and that’s true, but it didn’t bother me. This is a book I enjoyed wholeheartedly. The only thing I could have loved more would be to have seen Rosalind’s adventures — I missed her.
I probably don’t need to say this, but don’t start with this one, the third in the series. You’ll enjoy it more if you start with The Penderwicks, and then read the other two. But read them, if you have any inclination that way. They are so satisfying, happy, timeless books, well worth the read.