Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
by Jeanne Birdsall
Recommended Ages: 12+

In this second sequel to the National Book Award-winning tale of four sisters The Penderwicks, second-eldest Penderwick girl Skye uneasily assumes the role of S.A.P. (senior available Penderwick) when their father and new stepmother go to England for a honeymoon and eldest sister Rosalind is invited to the Jersey shore. Meantime, Skye, Jane, Batty, their dog, and their musically gifted friend Jeffrey share a two-week getaway along the coast of Maine, where the responsibility of keeping Batty from drowning or blowing up weighs heavily on Skye, especially after their aunt-chaperone badly sprains her ankle.

During their beach vacation, Jane obsesses over how to inject some romance into her series of novels about a life-saving sleuth. As part of her research, she gives her heart to an outwardly beautiful local boy, who turns out to be not so beautiful on he inside. Meantime Batty befriends the boy's little sister, and Jeffrey strikes up a friendship with the musician in the next bungalow over. But things take a serious turn when Jane observes an unsuspected family resemblance between Jeffrey and their neighbor. Their summer getaway develops into an emotionally wrenching, funny, touching, surprising mess.

Surprises there were, even after I spotted the answers to some riddles way ahead of the Penderwick girls. Their family group is growing up. Their relationship dynamics are changing. And some of them are handling this reality better than others. But it's all part of growing up Penderwick, which has so far never failed to be satisfying and entertaining to behold.

This is the third book in what is now a four-book series. Among the other titles are book 2, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, and book 4, The Penderwicks in Spring. Massachusetts-based author Jeanne Birdsall is also an art photographer and the author of several children's picture books.

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