Thursday, October 03, 2019

The Penderwicks in Spring

The Penderwicks In Spring. Jeanne Birdsall. 2015. 352 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Only one low mound of snow still lurked in Batty Penderwick’s yard, under the big oak tree out back, and soon that would be gone if Batty continued to stomp on it with such determination.

Premise/plot: The Penderwicks in Spring is the fourth title in Birdsall’s middle grade series. The focus has shifted from the older Penderwicks (Rosalind, Skye, Jane) to the younger (Batty, Ben, Lydia). Batty and Ben receive the most narrative focus.

The novel remains character-driven. This is not an action-packed novel with twists and turns. There isn’t a bit of suspense or tension—not really. The Penderwicks are struggling financially. But this isn’t the focus. Jeffrey is in love with Skye. But this isn’t the focus. The whole family misses their next door neighbor, Nick, who’s away fighting in a war. But this isn’t the focus. Batty is mourning the loss of Hound. But again this isn’t the focus. There isn’t a central focus, just dozens of tiny family moments captured in print.

My thoughts: I enjoyed the first half very much. I enjoyed spending time with Batty. (This is the first time we see a more mature Batty.) I liked seeing Batty fall in love with playing music and singing. I liked seeing Batty in the role of big sister. But I didn’t enjoy the second half nearly as much. I ached for Batty when she overheard something no child should ever have to hear. I felt horrible as I watched her world crumble and shake. I knew that it would resolve itself by the end of the book. There was no actual tension. But it was like pulling a bandaid off slowly—perhaps taking some skin too—to read the second half. The charm was largely missing. It may be completely realistic for an eleven year old to feel this emotional...but I wanted to fast forward time.

I do want to read the last book in the series. I have not read anything about it. But I have a few things I want to see happen.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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