The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne BirdsallMay 10, 2011; Knopf Books for Young Readers
When summer comes around, it's off to the beach for Rosalind . . . and off to Maine with Aunt Claire for the rest of the Penderwick girls, as well as their old friend, Jeffrey.
That leaves Skye as OAP (oldest available Penderwick)—a terrifying notion for all, but for Skye especially. Things look good as they settle into their cozy cottage, with a rocky shore, enthusiastic seagulls, a just-right corner store, and a charming next-door neighbor. But can Skye hold it together long enough to figure out Rosalind's directions about not letting Batty explode? Will Jane's Love Survey come to a tragic conclusion after she meets the alluring Dominic? Is Batty—contrary to all accepted wisdom—the only Penderwick capable of carrying a tune? And will Jeffrey be able to keep peace between the girls . . . these girls who are his second, and most heartfelt, family?
It's a rollicking ride as the Penderwicks continue their unforgettable adventures in a story filled with laughs and joyful tears! (courtesy of Goodreads)
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette is the third book in the Penderwick series. These books are destined to be classics. They will be as relevant and fun in fifty years as they are today.
If you're not familiar with The Penderwicks series, here's a run-down. The books follow the four Penderwick sisters, Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty. They live with their widowed father (who gets married in book #2) in New England. The sisters range in age from 5 to 13 (give a take a year for each book). Rosalind is the oldest. She's mature for her age, functioning as a quasi-mother to her younger siblings. Skye is tomboy. Jane is full of melodrama and is an aspiring writer. Batty is the youngest - a cute little girl who loves animals. The sisters are extremely close and have turned themselves into a team - even with official meetings.
In this third installment of The Penderwicks, their father and stepmother are in England for a conference, Rosalind is spending a few weeks with a friend, and Skye, Jane, and Batty are staying with their aunt on the beach in Maine. Skye is the designated OAP (oldest available Penderwick) and is terrified of the responsibility. Dreamy Jane is obsessed with the idea of love - for a story arc. And little Batty becomes obsessed with music. They're lucky to have their bosom friend Jeffrey staying with them for most of the trip.
While the story has a definite plot, that's not why you should read The Penderwicks. You should read it because you will travel back in time. To an era where children were innocent, kind, and all about having adventures. Life was simpler. The Penderwicks books are set in present day, but they feel classic. If you read them fifty years from now, it won't feel at all dated. There is nary a mention of technology. Not that it's not there, but it doesn't play a role in the characters' day to day lives. The Penderwicks will remind you of Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Betsy-Tacy...every classical children's book. You'll smile at almost every page.
These books are definitely innocent, but that doesn't mean they're unrealistic. Birdsall has done a wonderful job of capturing children's emotions. Things that seem laughably minor to us, like the responsibility of being the oldest sister for a few weeks, may be a huge deal to a kid and Birdsall describes it as such. Similarly, there is one more serious storyline toward the end of the book. I loved how Birdsall captured the mixture of anger, fear, hope, resentment, and happiness that any child in this character's situation would feel. The children's emotions and personalities are layered and complex.
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, like all the Penderwicks novels, has a whimsical feel. The book is slow and there's nothing that will keep you glued to the page. Instead, you will meander along with a group of characters you'll grow to love and be happy that the book doesn't speed by.