This book was a charming read. Reading about the Penderwicks on vacation at Point Mouette was like settling in with one of my favorite childhood reads like the first Boxcar Children book, The Secret Garden or the writings of L.M. Montgomery. There is a sense of timelessness and the sense that these children can accomplish anything.
The three youngest Penderwick sisters are off to vacation in Maine with Aunt Claire for two weeks while their eldest sister goes to New Jersey with a friend. Skye, now the OAP (Oldest Available Penderwick), is terrifed she’ll do everything wrong. She’s terrifed she’s going to do everything wrong, a feeling intensified when her tediously created notes with advice from her father and eldest sister Rosalind are destroyed when she rushes headlong into the ocean to save a dog. Only fragments of words are left on soaked pages, one of which includes something about blowing up. Worried that her youngest sister Batty will somehow explode, Skye’s nerves are further tested when her aunt sprains her ankle early into the vacation. Whenever Rosalind calls, Skye insists one of the others takes the call so she does not have to speak of all the accidents that have happened from the ankle spraining to Jane’s bloody nose.
I enjoyed the different dynamics each sister represented. Skye is the scientific one. Jane is the writer, bent this summer on writing a romance for her character Sabrina Starr. Batty is the baby who misses Rosalind fiercely. She also takes to something no Penderwick sister has yet–music. Batty’s partner in crime in music is Jeffrey.
Jeffrey, a friend of the Penderwicks, is finally allowed to join them at Point Mouette for vacation. His mother and stepfather do not approve of the Penderwicks. They also do not approve of Jeffrey’s love for music. He starts teaching Batty and gives her a harmonica, something Skye regrets. It is Jeffrey’s delight to discover that Alec,the Penderwicks’ summer next door neighbor, is a musician.
Besides Alec and his mischievous dog Hoover, the Penderwicks find themselves tangled with the lives of Dominic and his younger sister Mercedes. While Dominic becomes the object of Jane’s crush, Mercedes happily tags along with Batty.
Pivotal to the ending of the story is a revelation that does stretch the credulity of an adult. However, I can recall happily eating up such coincidences as a younger reader. I also liked reading different characters’ reactions to this revelation.
Having read this installment of The Penderwicks, I look forward to reading the earlier books as well.