Review: The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall


As you may know, The Penderwicks series is a big, big favorite of mine! The sweet, but not precious, story of Rosalind, Jane, Skye and Batty Penderwick is everything a children’s family series should be–decent morals, but not Pollyanna-ish, believeable, true to the day, but not distressingly “gritty.” I’ve loved this family and their story since the get-go.  With this addition to the series, the (sob) fifth and final Penderwicks book, I am at a loss–what will I do without a new Penderwicks book every few years? They are like family now.

The Story

For a few books now, there have been two “new” Penderwicks–the first four were joined by little step-brother Ben when Mr. Pendewick, long widowed, happily remarries and Ianthe brings her son into the family.  After their marriage they have a daughter, Lydia. This book brings the family full-circle, back to the youngest Penderwick and a special dog–just like Batty and Hound in the first book. And what a great dog Hitch is!

Today the first four are grown-ups. Batty is in college, Skye in graduate school, Jane is writing but not published yet and Rosalind is about to marry you-know-who [no spoilers]. And they have come full-circle in another way as well: it’s another summer at Arundel, Jeffrey’s fabulous home–which Jeffrey has made available to the family for the wedding. Instead of a little boy for a friend, this time there’s another little girl just Lydia’s age to add to the fun–Alice, daughter of Cagney the ever-present Arundel manager/handyman. Of course Jeffrey and his nemisis-mother, Mrs. Tifton are back as well.

Everything I love about this series is still here. As an adult, who has read all the other books, I found it a little bit too eager to repeat stories from the first book. But, if I was 11 and had read the first book in first grade I’d probably be glad for those reminders.  I loved the fact that the tension in the book was never thriller-level, no one will stay awake with nightmares after a bedtime chapter! But what I loved most was the dangled possibility of a new series with Lydia and Alice and Jack. It was not actually mentioned or really even hinted by the author, but my brain said “oh, this would work,” so I hope I’m right!

The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall

If You Like the Penderwicks



If you and your family enjoy(ed) the Penderwicks series, take a step back to the days of the 1930s-1940s and enjoy another great family series, The Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright.



Or, if you prefer current-day families, check out a British series I absolutely adore (and wish yet again that the autor would write a grown-ups novel of the parents’ marriage!) The Casson Family Story Collection by Hilary McKay. Here’s my review of Inigo’s Star (scroll down to see the review).





2 thoughts on “Review: The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall

  1. This looks charming, and somehow I’ve missed the Penderwicks. Have they been around for ages? What age range are they intended for? I’m taking it that an adult would still enjoy them?


    1. You would have just missed them as a parent. They came out in mid-2000s iirc. B and I enjoyed the first one together in ’08 or so. I stayed with them on my own. They are for about 2nd grade and up depending on if the child is reading to himself or it is being read aloud. Nothing “YA” ish about them though.


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