Monday, January 24, 2011

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

Where I Got the Book: My paperback copy is from Barnes and Noble

In Short: idyllic, charming, simple

The Penderwicks is an "it book"--one of those books you hear about all over the place because every prestigious book reviewer in the blogosphere or in review journalism is praising it, talking about it, comparing it to every great classic ever made (for example, I would say The Hunger Games is an "it book". I would like to say that Harry Potter also is one, but I consider it more of a mass phenomenon than simply an "it book". As widespread as The Penderwicks or HG is, I don't think they're quite to the degree that HP is at). Although I've always had a huge fondness for MG books, the real reason I sorely wanted it was because of another book--one that The Penderwicks had been constantly compared to: Half Magic.

As an elementary schooler, I was that kid who was obsessed with Harry Potter, Roald Dahl, and Edward Eager. I had read all of Edward Eager's books and, just as I am with Shannon Hale's novels now, recommended Half Magic to all of my friends (and very few have or did ever read it, if any did). To this day, I still think Eager's books influenced me as a reader in my tastes and as a writer in what I tend to write. So when many of my friends and tons of blogs that I read couldn't stop talking about Jeanne Birdsall's book, I knew I simply had to read this. I hadn't touched an Eager book in years, but I was certain this would be a delight.

I was right...but I think my expectations were a little too high for this book. Or maybe I've just aged. I'm not quite sure which, but I couldn't enjoy it as much as I did an Eager book or an Eleanor Estes novel. The feel, the mood--yes, that was familiar. The plot was vaguely similar, though perhaps with more of the adolescent troubles than would have been found in Half Magic.

The Penderwicks starts off very much like an Eager or Estes book: four sisters--so extremely realistic that they could be your neighbors--go on vacation over the summer with their widower father at a rented cottage called Arundel. Within the time span of three weeks, the sisters, each completely different from the next, undergo various Estes-esque adventures: Rosalind, the eldest, is trying to gain maturity and be more of an adult than she truly is; Skye, second eldest but the Penderwick sister with the quickest tongue of all that she simply can't seem to hold; Jane, the idealistic bookworm always off on literary adventures in her head; and little Batty, whose adorableness and innocence make her exactly your run-of-the-mill Estes "baby of the family". Joining the Penderwick girls in their mad schemes is Jeffrey, a boy whose mother has over-the-top expectations from her son, a kid who really only wants the simple and carefree life (or at least summer) that other children like the Penderwicks have.

A National Book Award winner, The Penderwicks is a fun, light summer read for Eager, Estes, and Nesbit fans, young and old alike. (As a random side note, I think those who will love this will relate wholeheartedly with Jane--she makes so many delightful literary references, and literary references + me = nerding out literary fangirl ;) ). I would definitely give this a shot if you're a fan of any of those authors; it may not be quite as beloved to you as Half Magic, Ginger Pye, or Five Children and It may be, but it's still a nice, quiet read for the interested bookworm. Not a favorite of mine, but I'm still excited to read the next books in this unfolding series.

Red Flags: To add to CSM's warnings, Surprisingly, there was perhaps a thing or two that was very vaguely hinted at, but it will easily fly over young readers' heads and can be very differently interpreted. Nothing to worry about, but a little odd, nonetheless.

Plot: 9/10 (wavers, just like an Eager or Estes book, but no direct plotline)
Characters: 7/10 (I really wanted to love all of the characters--and I simply love Jane--but Rosalind sometimes got on my nerves)
Writing: 10/10 (the writing style is not bad, and irons out the quirks that I always found odd in Eager's and Estes's works)
Originality: 10/10 (how many books nowadays do you see in the ilk of beloved authors of the fifties and sixties?)
Enjoyment: 9/10
Overall: 45/50

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Juvenile Fiction
Original Release Date: June 14, 2005

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bloggiesta Wrap-Up

This is a list of stuff I've done for Bloggiesta (my first year--w00t!)
  • Changed and fixed the design and banner (about three times, I think :P )
  • Changed font colors to match said design and banner
  • Posted The Penderwicks review
  • Updated the Archives page
  • Updated the "What's Next" widget
  • Added the "Pledge to Read the Written Word" widget (see left sidebar, below)
  • Changed colors of my WhosAmungUs widget to match said design and banner
  • Changed colors of my StatCounter to match said design and banner
  • Edited and updated the "Who I Am" page
  • Changed my e-mail for my Ning networks (this counts for blogging! Ya know, networking and all...)
  • Changed ownership/e-mail for all Google Docs, including forms on this blog
  • Actually LOOKED through blog forms (GASP)
  • Changed the About page to "About NftN"
  • Fixed the page widget above, as well as the Directory page
  • Wrote bloggy-related e-mails :)
I was planning on doing so much more, but oh well. I missed the first day...I guess I'll just have to make do with writing more posts during the week. And then I think there is another Bloggiesta in July...yay! So participating in that one, and PROMISING to do so much better.


I've actually NEVER participated in Bloggiesta before, but this time, I'm DETERMINED to do it and actually get stuff done around here.

Here's my basic weekend plan (and yes, I am aware that Friday is almost already done with, but I'm going to do what I can!):
  • Write reviews (duh)
  • Figure out how to throw in some guest posts (which will require YOU to participate! E-mail me for more info)
  • Fix up the design. It's pretty outdated, don't you think?
  • Edit the pages
  • Introduce and plan my super secret project!
  • Keep my Google Reader nice and tidy :)
That's...mostly it! And though that seems like so little in comparison to what many Bloggiesta participants are doing, I'm planning on writing a TON of reviews (and you know how long my reviews are).

Who's doing Bloggiesta? Good luck to those doing it! :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Um, 2011? Why Are You Here?

(It should be noted that, upon writing the title of this post, the author typed "2002" instead of 2011. And when she tried to type "2002", she instead wrote "2022". She really fails at numbers and years.)

Yeah, so...why is it that after one minute jumping from 11:59 to 12:00, we're suddenly in another day which then means we're in another month which then means we're in another year? I mean, say WHAAAATT?

I've already wasted two days of this year--which means three hundred sixty-four days to complete the following resolutions (I've decided for this year to split some of my resolutions into months):
  • Read a TON (namely, finish my TBR pile; not sure how to make this a monthly resolution, but I am aiming to finish the classics I own by this summer)
  • Write a TON (my main goal is to finish my WIP before the end of this month, but also to participate--and maybe even win--NaNo, Script Frenzy, and FAWM...and maybe NaBloPoMo, too)
  • Blog a TON (that means updating this two to three times a week--maybe do more if this really takes off--and update my tumblr more instead of staring at pictures on my dashboard all the time! That...doesn't sound creepy. :P )
My other resolutions--and huge biggies for me this year--are:
  • To do everything faster! Really, I'm super slow at everything--have you noticed?
  • Work ahead of time and not procrastinate...which I guess goes along with the first
  • And since I just noticed that the second goes with the first, I'm going to add another on a whim: be more patient with people, more accepting, and try not to get easily angered by others' actions. Basically, can I ask to be a saint? ;)
What are YOUR resolutions? Happy New Year, my lovelies!