What You Need to Know:|
• The Penderwicks on Gardam Street is the second book in the series. The author plans to write five in all.
• Set in the Penderwicks’ hometown, this story of sisterhood and friendship will appeal to a wide age range.
• There is a prologue explaining that the girls’ mother died of cancer right after the youngest sister was born.
• The first chapter provides a brief synopsis of book one which was about the girls' summer vacation.
• Look for challenging words like “sepulchral” and “feckless” plus plenty of latin terms.
• There is a mysterious stranger and a case of “breaking and entering” but it is not at all scary.
• This book is a Junior Library Guild Selection.
• Check out
Jeanne Birdsall’s website.
Sweet Series Background:|
The Penderwicks is a timeless tale about family, sisterhood and growing up. The books revolve around four sisters with very distinct personalities and their intellectual, although slightly oblivious father. Their mother passed away years earlier, falling ill to cancer right after the birth of her fourth daughter. The oldest, Rosalind is dependable and on the verge of adolescence, while Skye is sporty and good at math, Jane is a writer and romantic, and Batty is the baby sister who never knew their mother. The girls, whether at home or on vacation, deal with typical challenges of growing up like sibling rivalry, friendship, first crushes, and unappealing class work. As they learn to make thoughtful decisions and use good judgment, they are always bound by honor and their love of one another. These memorable characters will stay alive in readers' minds long after they've read this series.
The Penderwick sisters are home from summer vacation and coping with the usual issues a new school year can present. There are tough homework assignments, boy/girl relationships and new neighbors. While the story deals with the entertaining antics and emotional angst of the young girls, the more weighty concepts of deception, forgiveness, ethics and integrity are also touched upon in The Penderwicks on Gardam Street. The sisters try to live by a code of honor that requires respect, honesty and loyalty to each other. They falter though, and when they do, readers learn how they too can deal with mistakes and how they can take responsibility for them. Despite some minor indiscretions, the characters value honesty, thoughtfulness, intelligence, family, and friendship, and their story is comforting and wholesome.
Although the loss of their mother and the emotions that go along with that loss, are only briefly touched upon, it is clear that growing up without their mom is far from easy. Each of the four sisters takes on extra responsibilities while their dad is working at the local University, and each bears additional burdens with no mother to lean on. In her absence, they tend to rely on neighbors and their Aunt Claire, but mostly, they rely on each other. With some ups and downs, they successfully handle emotions like Rosalind’s confusion over her feelings for their neighbor Tommy, Skye’s fear of being on stage, Jane’s bravery on the soccer field, and Batty's loneliness at bedtime.
When Claire reveals that their mother had hoped their father would someday date after she was gone, the girls panic. Worried that they won’t be happy with their father’s choice, they take matters into their own hands and try to direct him toward women that they know he won’t like, in order to discourage him from finding someone new. Their dishonesty begins here and spreads to school where Jane and Skye decide to do each other’s homework. In both scenarios, things get out of control and the girls must decide how to make amends. Their father admits to his own fibs and as Jane says, he “made one false step” and was “mired in deception.” Lesson learned! Stay tuned for the next book in the series because your reader is sure to enjoy watching these girls grow up.
2008, 320 pages
Character/Values, Ethics, Family Life, Friendship, Growing Up, Illness/Death, School, Self-Awareness/Discovery, Siblings
• In what year do you think that this book is supposed to take place?
• Which of the four sisters do you like the best? Which one is most like you?
• Was it right for Skye and Jane to do each other’s work?
• Have you ever had to confess to doing something wrong? How did you do it?
• Is Mr. Penderwick a good father? Why or why not?
• Was Mr. Penderwick’s reaction to the girls’ indiscretion an appropriate one? Was his punishment fair?
• How should we decide whether or not to forgive a child, parent or friend?
• How would the story be different if their mother were alive?
• Why do Tommy and Rosalind get so mad at each other?
• How does honor play a role in your life? In your family?
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