The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
Happy families are not all alike, as previously met characters continue to prove.
This sequel to Birdsall's National Book Award winner, The Penderwicks , has even more charm than the original. The prologue hits the only maudlin note, flashing back to Mrs. Penderwick on her deathbed as she instructs her husband's sister, Claire, to make sure he finds love again after sufficient mourning. The Penderwick sisters—Rosalind, Jane, Skye and Batty—learn of this valediction four years later when Aunt Claire begins arranging blind dates. An emergency MOPS (Meeting of Penderwick Sisters) hatches the Save Daddy plan, in which the girls orchestrate dates so dreadful their father will see widowed life is best. Neighbors on Gardam Street include football-playing brothers Nick and Tommy (the latter plays Tracy to Rosalind's Hepburn), and two newcomers: a widowed professor and her toddler baby. Middle sisters Jane and Skye, who share a room but nothing else, steal the show by swapping homework assignments with hilariously catastrophic results. It's sheer pleasure to spend time with these exquisitely drawn characters, girls so real that readers will feel the wind through their hair as they power down the soccer field. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)