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Review of The Penderwicks at Last

The Penderwicks at Last
by Jeanne Birdsall
Intermediate    Knopf    294 pp.
5/18    978-0-385-75566-5    $16.99
Library ed.  978-0-385-75567-2    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-0-385-75568-9    $10.99

The Penderwick series finale (most recently The Penderwicks in Spring, rev. 3/15) is a summertime reverie set at the real-but-still-magical-seeming Arundel estate where it all began fifteen years before. Preparations are underway to celebrate eldest Penderwick sibling Rosalind’s wedding to Tommy; she and Skye (who’s working on her doctorate in astrophysics) are twenty-somethings, with Jane (waitressing and writing her novel) and Batty (studying music in college) close behind, leaving youngest Penderwick half-sister Lydia to take center stage. The fifth grader is known for being the dancer in the family and for being the Penderwick who likes everyone — and whom everyone likes, including the dreaded Mrs. Tifton, who threatens to disinherit her son, Jeffrey, if he even thinks about marrying a Penderwick. As with the previous entries, Birdsall maintains an out-of-time sensibility throughout, with Lydia and her new friend Alice (daughter of the estate’s caretaker Cagney, whom readers may remember from the first novel) often coming across as younger than today’s typical ten- or eleven-year-olds. Although fans of the series will be sad to say goodbye, they are likely to breathe happy sighs of contentment as Lydia and her friends and family members go “prancing, leaping, gamboling into the future.”

From the July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: ALA Awards.

About Monica Edinger

Monica Edinger, a fourth-grade teacher at the Dalton School in New York City, blogs at Educating Alice and the Huffington Post. She is the author of Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad (Candlewick), illustrated by Robert Byrd.

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