When the third Penderwicks book arrived on my doorstep, it went immediately to the top of my to be read stack. Which, given the size of the stack (in a virtual sense - there are actually many stacks), is quite impressive. I think that my love of the Penderwicks is an extension of my childhood love for Elizabeth Enright's books about the Melendy and Blake families. The Penderwicks books have the same timeless, slightly idealized, kid-friendly quality. They events that transpire aren't necessarily all realistic, but Birdsall, like Enright, describes a world that any kid (or adult) would love to live in for a time.
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette finds the extended Penderwick family on the verge of a temporary separation. Rosalind is off to New Jersey with her best friend, Mr. Penderwick and his new bride (accompanied by their small son) are off to England for their honeymoon, and the reader is off with Skye, Jane, Batty, Hound, Jeffrey, and Aunt Claire to a tiny cabin in Point Mouette, Maine.
I don't want to give anything away about the plot. Suffice it to say that there are mishaps, misunderstandings, and toasted marshmallows. There are new friends, a potential love interest or two, and entrepreneurial and creative undertakings. There is soccer, music, and a Sabrina Starr manuscript. And if there's also a coincidence that's large enough to strain credibility, well, it's worth it to have the book end up in the right place. [I said something similar about the last book, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street.]
What more can I say? I love Skye, Jane, and Batty Penderwick. They are quirky and unique and fun to be around (especially Skye). Jeffrey I like, but find a bit too perfect. He does make a nice foil for the decisively imperfect Skye. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from The Penderwicks at Point Mouette:
"Aunt Claire, too, had let Skye down. "You'll do fine as the OAP," she said. "You'll find it in you," she added, and Skye went off to research multiple personalities, hoping she could find a new person inside who would be good at caring for Batty. When she discovered that extra personalities couldn't be ordered up on demand, she considered locking herself in the basement--or maybe faking a coma--until everyone had gone away to New Jersey, England, and Maine without her." (Page 18)
"Roasting marshmallows over an open fire is an art. The marshmallow should be evenly toasted all around until it's a golden brown. A slight puckering of the skin is all right, and some people like that the best. The inside should be hot all the way through and softened, but not melted into messy gooeyness. Not one of the marshmallows roasted that night came even close." (Page 142)
And is this vintage Enright, or what (and I mean this in the best possible way)?
"Skye and Jane waved frantically, the car came to a stop, and out of its window popped Jeffrey, looking exactly as he should, with his freckles and his hair that had trouble staying down, and just as happy to see them as they were to see him. (Page 39)
Indeed, all of the Penderwicks are looking exactly as they should in this installment. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette is not a book for cynics. The ending is unabashedly sappy (though with just enough humor to keep from being over the top). But fans of the series are going to love it. For those who are not yet fans of the series, I recommend starting at the beginning (though, since these books are more character and episode-driven than plot-driven, it's not 100% essential to read the books in order). And I envy you a bit, having all three Penderwicks books still ahead of you. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette is recommended for modern-day middle grade readers, girls and boys, and for any and all adults nostalgic for the books of their childhood.
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).