Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fewer Grownups = More Fun

I really lucked out at our library sale this week finding hardback copies of The Wind in the Willows (with the proper illustrations--hard to find) and The Penderwicks, among other treasures. A mom friend pointed out The Penderwicks to me, mentioning that it won the National Book Award because it was different from all the other children's books nominated that year. "They were all dark fantasies," she said. "This is just a sweet tale about children on summer vacation with minimal adult supervision."

I dove into Penderwicks as soon as I got it home and read it within three days. From the start it reminded me strongly of E. Nesbit's stories and Edward Eager's Tales of Magic, and in fact it makes references to Nesbit's Bastables and Eager's Magic by the Lake. The four sisters also reminded me a bit of Little Women.

The premise is simple: the kindly, Latin-quoting Mr. Penderwick rents a cottage in the New England countryside for his family for several weeks in the summer. The cottage is on the grounds of a large estate with magnificent gardens. Rosalind (filling in for her deceased mom), Skye (the hot-headed tomboy), Jane (the authoress), and Batty (the animal-loving preschooler) befriend a lonely boy and unwittingly get into trouble daily. The girls are all intelligent, spunky, sensitive, and oh-so-likable. It's charming charming charming.

1 comment:

Catherine Denton said...

Those ARE good finds! Lucky girl.