I’d say that The Penderwicks might be the perfect fictional family to spend a little time with when the real world feels crappy and overwhelming. There’s something about Birdsall’s blend of sweet sisterly affection, family melodrama, gentle humour, and happy endings, that can make a girl feel hopeful again. Sure, some might say that these books stretch belief because they seem too good to be true, perhaps a little precious in places, but you know what, sometimes everyone needs a little too good to be true. Sign me up.
This third book in the series follows most of the Penderwick family as they head to Point Mouette for a summer vacation. Rosalind is visiting a friend in New Jersey, and Mr. Penderwick is off on his honeymoon, so Skye must take on the role of the Oldest Available Penderwick, much to her distress. In preparation, she makes a huge list of things to remember in order to take the best possible care of her littlest sister, Batty. Of course, this list gets destroyed, leaving Skye to struggle along and figure out how to be responsible by herself. All three of the sisters come into their own through their new experiences. Growing up is bumpy, but it’s all so much nicer when you have sisters you can depend on.
As with the past Penderwick stories, the adventures here are the kinds of adventures that real kids have, not very big, but seeming to be big to those involved. I like that aspect of Birdsall’s writing very much. She is incredibly successful at making what is important and exciting and challenging for kids come across as important and exciting enough to propel her plot forward and keep the reader invested. It’s also wonderful how this author succeeds in crafting each of the sisters as fully their own person, three-dimensional, with unique traits and voice without making any of them seem forced or hard to believe or over-written.
Yes, there is a pretty big coincidence at the heart of this story, but you know what, I’m okay with that, and I think that old and new Penderwick fans will be too. Ms. Birdsall writes with such grace, creating a wonderfully classic world in these books, that somehow I think I could believe in just about anything she put on the page.
Perfect for wrapping you up in warmth when life gets tough, The Penderwicks at Point Mouette will make you feel good about life, the universe, and everything.
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette is published by Knopf.