Book Review: The Penderwicks

by Melissa on December 29, 2009 · 0 comments

in 9-12, ATOS 4.0-4.9, Family & Relationships, Lexile 800-899, Part of a series or set

Title:The Penderwicks
Series:The Penderwicks, Book 1
Publisher: Yearling
Author:Jeanne Birdsall
Lexile: [?] 800L
ATOS Level: [?] 4.7
Parent Rating:
VN:F [1.9.7_1111]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
Pause For Ages: 9-12


While vacationing with their widowed father in the Berkshire Mountains, four lovable sisters, ages four through twelve, share adventures with a local boy, much to the dismay of his snobbish mother.


Even with all the notations, this is a lovely story. Probably better for 9-10 year-olds to read it with someone. Very well-written, realistic and likeable characters.


None. [?]  ‘God’ used as an exclamation.

Sexual Content

Kids hear grownups kissing. 12 year-old wants to kiss a boy, sees him kissing someone else.


Grownups drink wine.


The girls’ mother dies of cancer. There is a touching story that the littlest girl wants re-told about her mother naming her (mom dies just a few weeks after the birth). Mention of the dad being sad. A man hits a dog. A little girl is trapped in a field with a bull, very afraid.  Kid thinks there is a monster in the closet. Story told about a little girl who’s father threw her into the pool to teach her to swim, and how she was afraid she was going to drown.


“The cuter the boy, the mushier your brain.” Eleven year-old doesn’t “see beauty” when she looks in the mirror. “…when I am in the backseat too long with my younger sisters, I go insane and murder them.” “…although it will not be the strict truth, it will not be an evil lie…” Mention of her first marriage to Jeffery’s father as a “Big Mistake”, secretly married when she was 20 as a way to rebel against her father. Girls make a cardboard target of Mrs. Tifton’s fiance to use for archery practice. Jeffery tried to run away, with some help from the girls. Jeffery’s mother describes the sisters as “a little vulgar….definitely not in our class.”


Children laugh that the snobbish Mrs. Tifton would never bump into their mother in heaven (implication being that Mrs. Tifton wouldn’t be in heaven). Barking dog referred to as “demon dog”. “laughing demonically” “The gods of fate may be kind.”

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