cover image The Penderwicks in Spring

The Penderwicks in Spring

Jeanne Birdsall, read by Susan Denaker. Listening Library, unabridged, 8 CDs, 9.5 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-0-553-55215-7

In the fourth installment to the Penderwick family series, fifth grader Batty Penderwick is doing her best to be a good big sister to siblings Ben and Lydia, while mourning Hound, her beloved dog. A new music teacher at school discovers Batty's wonderful singing voice, and Batty is anxious to tell her honorary brother Jeffrey (a beloved friend of the family) and perhaps arrange a grand concert for her family on the occasion of her upcoming 11th birthday. Then Batty overhears an argument between her sister Skye and Jeffrey, and all her birthday plans are scrapped as she tries to cope with the enormous emotions the argument brought to light. Birdsall's excellent prose is tremendous and enjoyable, especially when read by Denaker, who gives each of the siblings related yet distinct voices%E2%80%94maternal and grown-up for the eldest, Rosaline; dreamy for Jane; no-nonsense for Skye; and quiet and shy for Batty. Little brother Ben has a nasal twang, and toddler Lydia singsongs her way through life. Hearing Denaker perform them all is a delight. Most impressively, Batty's enormous anguish is embodied in Denaker's assured performance. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. A Knopf hardcover. (Mar.)