The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

I picked up my copy of The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (by Jeanne Birdsall) used, at Goodwill or a garage sale. It’s been sitting on my shelf for almost two years, waiting until the perfect moment to be read.

This weekend brought the perfect moment.

I was in the mountains with my extended family for a family reunion. We gathered at my grandparents’ cabin and renewed our bonds with each other by splitting into groups and re-making Johnny Lingo. In our downtime, we went boating and rode the jet skis. I enjoy going on the boat and jet skis occasionally, but it’s not my favorite thing. I was content to let everyone else have a turn and only headed out when one of my kids begged me to take them on a ride.

Instead, I would relax on the deck and visit with aunts, uncles, cousins, and/or their children. Or else I would read.

Thus arose the perfect moment to read about Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty Penderwick. I loved them from the first page. Ms. Birdsall’s writing reminds me very much of Elizabeth Enright (Thimble Summer, Gone Away Lake) and Maud Hart Lovelace (The Betsy-Tacy books) and yet is still fresh and modern.

Even better, she has two other Penderwick books already written! I can’t wait to discover them.

This is definitely going on the ‘read-aloud’ list.

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Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

This isn’t a new book; on the contrary, it’s an old classic. I skipped class in high school to go and see the drama department’s matinee of Flowers for Algernon that they were putting on for the elementary school kids. (Why I couldn’t have paid the five bucks and seen it at night is still a mystery.)

My perspective now is surely different than it was then. Not only am I now an adult myself and better understand some of the nuances of adult relationships, I also have a child with a disability. While autism (which is what my son has) and mental retardation (which is what the hero of this book, Charlie Gordon, has) are two different animals, I still easily related some of the struggles between the two. The book, written in the late 50s, shows how society has changed in the way disabilities are looked at and also the way those who have disabilities are treated. Beyond that, though, is a great, tear-jerking story. It’s beautifully written, and one that, though I picked it off the library shelf on a whim, I will be culling Goodwill for to put on my own library shelf.