by Jeanne Birdsall
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
I’ll be the first to admit it: I love The Penderwicks. I have been waiting for this latest installment for ages and it finally came in for me! I tried so hard not to devour it but also didn’t want to lose the momentum of the story, so I ended up staying up too late reading it (and also sobbing).
This one starts out several years after the previous three, with Batty (now about to turn ten) at its center. Rosalind is off at college and Jane and Skye are teenagers. There is much chasing around of boys but in an innocent way. In addition to the four original Penderwick girls, there is their step-brother Ben and a half-sister, Lydia, who is now two. (Lydia provides much of the comic relief that Batty provided in the previous books.) Batty’s dog, Hound, had died a few months before and she still hasn’t really moved on in her grief for him. Batty has discovered she can sing and wants to make money to pay for singing lessons and surprise her family, so she starts walking dogs in the neighborhood to raise money. Several plot twists later, all’s well that ends well.
I really like how realistic the girls’ relationships with each other are. Particularly, in this book, Batty and Skye’s troubled relationship. Skye remains in focus as one of the more fleshed out characters, and both she and Batty work through some tough stuff, including learning how to talk about their feelings and deal with grief. It was a very powerful story, especially about the toll that grief and trauma can take on even a very young person (Batty was four years old when her mother died).
One other head’s up: There is a family friend who is in the army and goes off to war, and a couple of sad scenes saying goodbye to him, so that might be a trigger for someone.
Reads like: The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
Adventure/emotions like: Nest by Esther Ehrlich