Following the gentle, nostalgic lead established in The Penderwicks, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street escorts the titular family back from summer vacation and into another school year. The four sisters—Rosalind, age 12; Skye, 11; Jane, 10; and Batty, 4—are faced with life after a first crush; boring homework; sneaky chances to avoid said boring homework; a new game of Secret Agents with a new target; a new soccer season; and neighbors, both new and old. On top of all this, their Aunt Claire comes to visit, bringing scary news in the form of a letter from the girl’s mother, who died shortly after the youngest was born. Their mother, afraid her husband would get lonely, asked his sister to make sure he started dating again after a few years. Now, Aunt Claire says, it’s time. Faced with the specter of an Evil Stepmother, the girls put into place the Save-Daddy plan.
It’s a delightful little book. The issues are fairly mundane, but the family’s way of describing and dealing with their problems are creative and thoroughly entertaining. All the characters have strong, distinct personalities, and their responses to crises are tailored to their personalities. This does not, however, prevent the book from acknowledging some universal truths, like that macaroni and cheese makes people feel better. (If necessary, substitute the vegan/gluten free/lactose free comfort food of your choice into the sentence above.) This book, like its predecessor, is the literary equivalent of macaroni and cheese.
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street ~ Jeanne Birdsall ~ Jeanne Birdsall’s Blog
My review of The Penderwicks