[LISTENED TO: May 24, 2015] The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
In this third book, which is set but one year after the events of the first book, quite a lot has changed. And the main characters are somewhat different in this book.
It is summer time and the Penderwicks are headed to Point Mouette, Maine for a vacation. Except that Mr Penderwick is away in England [I won’t say why, I don’t want to spoil the part I know from book two] and Rosalind is vacationing in New Jersey with friends. We don’t get to see Rosalind at all (I’d like to hear a bit more about her time in Ocean City), and we only get occasional phone calls from her (it’s as if Rosalind grew up and didn’t want to be part of the show anymore, so she was “written out” of the script).
That means that 12-year-old Skye is the O.A.P. (Oldest Available Penderwick) and she will look after 11-year-old Jane and 6-year-old Batty. Fear not, they will have some adult help–Aunt Claire will be there too. Although she is quickly taken out of the action when she twists her ankle and is on crutches for most of the book.
The one major problem I had with this book is that as O.A.P., Skye is annoyingly insecure in this book. In general, Skye is a major bad ass. She’s tough, she takes no guff from her sisters (even though she loves them dearly) or from boys. And yet for this whole book she is petrified of being O.A.P. And she comes across as a bit whiny. While this does work to humanize her a bit, it also seems excessive. Of course, this may also be the decision of audio book reader Susan Deneker to make her sound quite so frantic, but it’s weird to think of Skye as being so insecure.
On the other hand, she is the one who is mostly in charge of everyone and she is only 12, for crying out loud. So her concern is understandable, it’s just that her reaction seems out of character. Indeed, the whole premise of these books–that these kids make pretty big decisions on their own–is just crazy (but that does it give it a cool retro feel too).
Anyhow, the family goes to Maine. And they are in for a delightful surprise when Jeffrey (their friend from last summer) is allowed to spend the time with them.
There’s also a new friend made in neighbor Alec. [And here I have to reveal a bit of pride in Tabitha my 7-year-old daughter who upon hearing a small detail about Alec came to a wonderful conclusion. I was really impressed that she was ale to piece things together so quickly].
Skye is meant to keep an eye on everyone–especially Batty. Roalsind has given her extensive instructions about her–she must wear a life jacket whenever she is near the water and there was something about “blow up” in the note (which Skye lost) that has her on tenterhooks all vacation.
So what happens in this book? Well, Jane falls for a local skateboarder named Dominic. She becomes even more starry-eyed and (to Skye) insufferable with her love for this boy who is so clearly beneath her. (He’s hilariously dumb). Dominic has a younger sister Mercedes who gets along with Batty wonderfully and even becomes an honorary Penderwick.
They have a wonderful time on the beach (even if they have to evoke the Fire Gods to have some wishes come true).
There’s a golf course (which hosts some moose early in the morning). And Batty winds up collecting and then selling golf balls to the players–Jeffrey also gets in on this action in an amusing way).
But the main excitement is music. Alec is a musician, which makes Jeffery so happy. Alec has a piano and Jeffrey makes ample use of it. And even Hound is excited by Alec because Alec has a dog of his own (a wild dog whom Skye is perpetually annoyed by). Alec’s friend Touran comes in from New York to jam (he is a drummer) and they all rave about Jeffrey’s playing. (Jeffrey wants to go to music school but his mother doesn’t want him to–in fact we learn a lot about Jeffrey’s mother even if she doesn’t actually appear in the story).
And in all the excitement, Batty even picks up some musical skills (even if Penderwicks are completely unmusical).
The excitement about Alec causes all kinds of emotional turmoil at the end of the book, although it’s impossible to say more without giving things away.
Suffice it to say that Skye has a very eventful two weeks as O.A.P. and she is very happy to revert the leadership role back to Rosalind when they get home. We don’t get any information about Mr Penderwick’s trip, but I sure hope he brought back a tiger for Batty.
I’m looking forward to listening to the entirety of Book Two one of these days. These stories are sweet and charming and even if the premise of the teens being so much in charge of things is improbable, the emotions ring rather true.
Oh and Sarah just read book four which is set some five years in the future. This is especially odd since books 1-3 all take place in the span of one year.