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The Penderwicks on Gardam Street    by Jeanne Birdsall order for
Penderwicks on Gardam Street
by Jeanne Birdsall
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Readers may have met the Penderwicks in A Summer Tale. The adventures of the four sisters and their widowed dad continue in their newest book which takes place at home on Gardam Street.

About this one thing, twelve-year-old Rosalind Penderwick is sure - her mother was mistaken when she asked her husband to begin dating four years after her death. Rosalind worries that her dad will bring home a stepmother. She calls a MOPS (Meeting of Penderwick Sisters) and the four girls decide they need a Save Daddy Plan.

Skye comes up with the idea of getting Mr. Penderwick dates with such horrible women that there will be no chance that he'll ever want to see them again. But after two engineered dates, their dad comes up with a date of his own. Rosalind is frustrated that he found a date without their help and expects the worst when he doesn't bring her home to meet them. Four-year-old Batty, the youngest sister, decides to help by stowing away on his latest date.

Strange things are happening on Gardam Street, but only Batty notices. She tries to call attention to a man she calls the Bug Man, but her sisters think he exists only in her imagination.

Gardam Street is a cul-de-sac with a park at the end of the road, leaving the children who live there plenty of space for fun and games. Tommy and Nick, the Penderwick neighbors, are always involving them in sports practice. Nick wants to be a coach so he practices on whoever he can find. Lately, Tommy seems to have a crush on Rosalind which she finds annoying, but when his attention turns to Trilby, a brainless gymnast at school, she is even more annoyed.

There's more than one plot in Jean Birdsall's second novel about the Penderwicks. With a family of four lively, intelligent girls, conflict lies in every direction as the sisters take on Daddy's dating, problems caused when Skye and Jane trade homework, and Batty's not-so-imaginary Bug Man.

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale won numerous awards, and there's just as much to enjoy in this newest installment. Humorous and original, Birdsall's writing will remind adult readers of a time when children's novels coped less with edgy reality than with comfortable, solvable family conflicts. If you haven't dipped into family life with the Penderwicks yet, you're in for a satisfying read.

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