The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

September 11, 2009

Book review: Penderwicks back for another delightful mission

‘The Penderwicks on Gardam Street’

By Jeanne Birdsall

(4-8th grade)

In the sequel to the charming and award-winning “The Penderwicks,” the Penderwick sisters — Rosalind, Jane, Skye and Batty — are back and they are on another mission. This time they are attempting to help their dad out of an especially tricky dating situation.

In a prologue flashback to the girls’ mother on her deathbed, readers learn that Claire, Mr. Penderwick’s sister, has been given instructions to make sure he starts looking for love after a substantial mourning period. In keeping with her promise, Aunt Claire waits four years and then arranges Mr. Penderwick’s first blind date, with the agreement that he will go out with at least three other women, at which time Claire will have fulfilled her promise.

Mr. Penderwick is completely against the idea of dating and only agrees because it is what his wife wanted. In an effort to help their father, the girls hatch the “Save Daddy” plan, in which they solicit dreadful dates for their father in hopes that he will remain a widower indefinitely. Mayhem and comedy ensue and the girls are soon in over their heads.

Birdsall has written another charming, timeless creation that readers will treasure. The Penderwick family is just as delightful this time around and when paired with their cleverly drawn neighbors and friends this book is impossible to put down.

‘Dune Road’

By Jane Green

(Adult fiction)

In Green’s latest summer read, set in the well-to-do coastal community of Highfield, Conn., recently divorced Kit Hargrove has gotten a second chance at life and she could not be happier with her downsized life.

No longer does she have to pretend to be a happy Wall Street wife who is really wretchedly lonely. She is thrilled with her tiny house, her faithful friends, her resilient children, her helpful ex-husband and most of all she is delighted to have found a job she loves — working for the reclusive, best-selling novelist Robert McClore.

Her idyllic life is soon interrupted when she starts dating a handsome man from her yoga class, who may not be as perfect as he seems; her long-lost sister makes an appearance; and a secret is revealed about her employer.

Though fall is rapidly approaching, this should not prevent Jane Green fans from picking up this light beach read. Bear in mind, however, that while Green is a master of creating strong female characters, the many plot lines may leave some feeling less than satisfied.

Jeana Gockley is the children’s librarian at Joplin Public Library.