The Penderwicks at Last

Dear Fellow Lovers of Good Books, I have sad and happy news.

Sadly, the Penderwicks series (previously discussed here) has come to an end. In happy news, that ending is lovable, perfect, and filled with a joy you can clasp right close to you and never let go.

The characters aren’t gone and finished and done with: Jeanne Birdsall is too wise an author to end her books with utmost finality. I don’t mean to say she leaves room for the novels to continue (she sounds pretty final on that point, probably a wise choice), but that the ending doesn’t feel like a pat “happily ever after.” Rather, it’s left with musings over what’s going to happen next– and, best of all, what happens next is up to your imagination.

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I’m writing ever so briefly about this for two reasons: a) My previous post says pretty much everything that I need to say about how wonderful these books are, so I don’t need to go on at length, but b) I do want to remind you of this series, let you know that it continues beautifully to the very end, and, really, encourage you to give it a shot.

What can you expect from this series as a whole? I’d say what you get is affirmation. Perhaps another word, maybe a better one, is reassurance. People aren’t really all that bad, you come away thinking. Even when someone is all that bad, they’re so outnumbered by the tight loving-kindness of a basically good family that the selfishness or nastiness is completely counter-balanced. Negativity can never win.

I’m struggling here not to give away any of the plot twists, but I’ll say that even the Penderwicks aren’t perfect. The children overstep, they come up with plans which are less than totally advisable, and yet the basic decency underlying everything their family has to offer results in teachable moments rather than leading to descents into harrowing negativity. Even the harshest moments are handled so deftly and sensitively by Jeanne Birdsall that negativity never really gets a grip on the story. And in an era of the grim and the gritty, I appreciate this reassuring, life-affirming sort of text.

So, yes, I encourage you to go forth and read! Read about the Penderwicks and your life will be just a little stauncher, a little more committed to life and beauty and music. Enjoy it– I know I did!

And, because I can’t resist: yes, I went to Jeanne Birdsall’s event and signing hosted by the Children’s Book Shop (I’m so glad I live near there now!). And, dork that I am, I got my picture taken with her. It’s terribly unflattering of both of us, but I don’t care. Here’s evidence that I met and spoke with Jeanne Birdsall, author of the Penderwicks. I couldn’t be happier, so who cares about whatever the hell’s going on with my chin(s???) and hair!

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Jeanne Birdsall? Thank you for writing. I hope that you continue to write with joy, sensitivity, and hope. I love your books, and will read them all, forever. I can’t wait until my Changeling is old enough to read them with me.

The rest of you? Really, I don’t know what else I can say. Go forth and read!

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