Book Review: The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall

Penderwicks Spring

My first attempt to attach a Goodreads book review of mine to my blog…

Life just doesn’t get any better than the Penderwicks. There are no books that I want to savor as much as these. Jeanne Birdsall can take as long as she wants to finish writing the fifth and therefore final book of the series. This family only exists on written pages, and I want to stay with them always. I laugh out loud with them, and my heart breaks with them. Bringing to life such a quality family takes time.

Jeanne Birdsall is a master at transforming the ordinary into something extraordinary. This latest and fourth tale has a lot of music in it, so that is partly what makes it my second favorite after the first one. Batty is the Artist of the family. I fear explaining too many examples of why I LOVE this story, due to spoiling it for others.

I think many of us can sympathize with Batty’s enjoyment of good books but dislike of analyzing them. Analyzing is for college literature courses, and book reviews are for sharing treasures (or trash).

As usual, Birdsall mentions many other classics, including works of fiction (such as The Phantom Tollbooth), film (including Star Trek: The Next Generation), and a fair amount of music. This is a great way for the pre-teens who are reading it to be introduced to other current and classic books and songs, to the films that their parents enjoy, to Broadway (no belting allowed!), and also in a positive way to symphonies and opera. Even I, as an adult, am motivated to go look up these songs and other books.

I finished reading this book on my birthday, and I had heard Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on the radio earlier in the day (though the radio version’s conductor somehow managed to make Beethoven DULL; the great Herbert von Karajan’s “Ode to Joy” is what Batty received). What a lovely coincidence with this book in which Beethoven’s symphonies and Batty’s birthday are significant to the plot. I am now the same year as Birdsall when she published her first book after intending for her life to be a writer. She is my hero in many ways!

Things that I project will be resolved in the fifth book [consider this your Spoiler Alert]: From the front cover to the last page of Spring, we find an emotional maturity separation between the adolescent Penderwicks and the youngest three (Batty, Ben, and Lydia) that has a lot to do with romantic entanglements. Yet very soon, Batty will be old enough to realize that she is in love with Jeffrey, and he with her. I love how another reviewer also discovered this and described it as Jo-Laurie-Amy revisited, from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Laurie, like Jeffrey, is an “honorary brother.” In the beginning, Amy is just a child, and everyone’s favorite “couple” is Jo and Laurie, who unexpectedly go their separate ways. I find many reviewers still rooting for Skye and Jeffrey, just as many are disappointed when Jo and Laurie dramatically break up. Laurie later discovers a grownup Amy in Europe. I believe the future romance of Batty and Jeffrey is inferred by Birdsall. Not only does the Penderwicks family live in Massachusetts, as did the March family, but Batty is destined for a musical tour of Germany with Jeffrey and his father. The fifth installment will also have to help us forgive Skye and also resolve some deep issues of hers. It remains to be seen whether this will have anything to do with romance.

I cannot imagine anyone ever being disappointed on any page of the Penderwicks stories. That this fourth was published in 2015 is all the more incredible. These stories are timeless: a child could have understood and cared for them fifty years ago, if they had existed then. We of the 2010s are most blessed by this family! In fact, if you are someone who isn’t living in a well-functioning family, these books will picture for you what family means.

I think this was a FAIL as far as sharing my Goodreads reviews here. Basically it was just a cut and paste job.
<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5439883-ruth-e-r”>View all my reviews</a>

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