This photo essay was compiled by the author of the Penderwicks novels, which come to an end this month. All captions are quotes from the five books in the series.
When I was young and foolish, I yearned to be a famous photographer, with my pictures hanging in the Met, and a budding friendship with William Wegman and his Weimaraners. None of that happened and, eventually, when I was older but still foolish, I decided to write books for children. I closed my darkroom, threw away the chemicals, and wrote a scene in which an angry bull stomps on an expensive camera. I was done with photography.
But I wasn’t. Digital photography, ever-improving (and without chemicals and grueling hours spent in the dark) lured me back to the visual world. It wasn’t long before the writing and pictures were influencing each other, entwining, reflecting, predicting. Here are some of those combinations from the Penderwick stories, including a few from The Penderwicks at Last, the final book of the series. I won’t tell you which came first, the words or the pictures. It doesn’t matter.
Quigley Woods was forty acres of glorious wilderness carved out of the middle of Cameron.
The moonlight had turned the gardens into a fairyland, magnificent and mysterious.
Who doesn’t like sheep? There turned out to be an entire flock of them living in a field next to Arundel.
Jane came out from under her pillow and shook Skye. “You’d better go see what Batty’s doing. I think she’s got hold of a harmonica.”
“Impossible,” mumbled Skye.
But then the serenity was wrecked by a yelping streak of black and white that came out of nowhere to fly past the girls and into the ocean and after the birds.
“Officially spring came in March, but it can’t really be here unless the snow is gone and the daffodils are in bloom. Dad said so.”
And then there were the dolls, for Jane had kept not only every doll she’d ever been given, but every doll ever given to Skye, too. (Doll by Jane Dyer.)
“Plus my parents gave Jack a phone so he can keep in touch from Canada but I don’t have a phone so I can’t keep in touch with anybody, not Marcel or anybody. And Marcel has a Newfoundland puppy named Slapshot.”
Instead of a shy violet here and there, great clumps of them now dotted the paths.
Rosalind and Batty arrived at the carriage house exactly on time and found the screen door Cagney had described, with a BEWARE OF ATTACK RABBITS! sign nailed alongside.
Lydia and rhythm were as one while she bopped back and forth, being what her father called the Embodiment of Music.
“My uncle planted that rose thirty years ago. He wrapped it in burlap every winter to keep it alive. I can’t kill it now just because Mrs. Robinette doesn’t know how to steer.”
A voice that soared out across the creek and up through the willow branches, so rich and glorious it lured back the red cardinal, astonished by the phenomenon, a human being who sang as beautifully as a bird.
The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall. Knopf, $16.99 May ISBN 978-0-385-75566-5