Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall

It is not difficult to work out why Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks have made such a strong impression on all who have encountered them. At a time when books for children can be incredibly complicated and sophisticated and packed full of moral and mental heavy lifting, it really seems as though Birdsall has just set out to tell a story in classic, old school-style. Kids everywhere seem relieved.

Birdsall’s debut novel, The Penderwicks, was published in 2005 to wide acclaim that would eventually include the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Fans of that book will be happy to see that the sequel, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (Knopf), possesses all the charm of the original.

The Penderwicks are now back from vacation and Mr. Penderwicks’ sister -- Skye, Batty, Jane and Rosaline’s Aunt Claire -- has come for a visit and not without an agenda: she declares that its time for their father to start dating again. The girls don’t agree, and wholesome high-jinx ensues.

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