It's summer again, and the Penderwick sisters are once more ready for a vacation. This time, though, the family will be splitting apart for separate trips. Iantha and Daddy and baby Ben will be in England on a honeymoon, and Rosalind is going to New Jersey with her best friend. The remaining girls will be going to Point Mouette, Maine, with their Aunt Claire and their most excellent friend Jeffrey.
It's exciting, of course, but it's also nerve-wracking for poor Skye who will be the Oldest Available Penderwick, and thus, charged with the care and keeping of Batty. Skye's not sure she's up to the challenge--in fact, no one's really sure she's up to the challenge, and things get even hairier when Skye soaks the list of instructions Rosalind had given her and Aunt Claire sprains her ankle on their very first day of vacation--both thanks to their neighbor's uncontrollable dog. Thankfully, Alec (the neighbor) is friendly, musical (well, mostly Jeffrey appreciates the use of his piano), and guilt-ridden. There's also a romance for Jane, who as luck would have it, was trying to research a new Sabrina Starr book about falling in love, a new talent for Batty, and a shocking, painful, joyful discovery for Jeffrey.
And it's the most delightful Penderwick book yet! I missed Rosalind and Ben nearly as much as Batty did, but I was so glad to have Jeffrey back for the entire book that it was made up for. I loved the setting and Skye's anxiety and Jane's head-in-the-clouds love story. Jeffrey's part in the book was what really made me love it, though. Okay, so it was a bit of an unbelieveable coincidence for Alec to have been their immediate neighbor, and for them to have been forced together by the dog so early, and for them all to have gotten along so well so quickly, but the Penderwicks have such magic that I was able to suspend my disbelief in order to appreciate how truly heart-wrenching, and then how joyful, it all was for Jeffrey. It's a difficult topic to tackle while maintaining the innocence of the previous two books, and I think Ms. Birdsall did it with grace. It helped that there was never any doubt that things were going to work out--Alec was just too good a person, with absolutely no blame to bear, and Jeffrey and he already had plans to see each other in Boston. I do want to know how Jeffrey will ever forgive his mother.
Really, I'd just love to see another Penderwicks book. With Ben this time, please!