This is another book club I did last summer with another librarian. This time we read The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. I just love the Penderwicks books and the first one makes a great title for a summer book club.
We started with an ice breaker activity. As the girls came in, we had them fill out a sheet that asked them 1) which Penderwick sister is your favorite? 2) which Penderwick sister are you most like? and 3) what do you think would be a good title for a Sabrina Starr book? We tallied the answers and used them to start the discussion. We then went through most of our discussion questions (listed below), although we had a lot and didn’t have enough time to go through them all. We then played our version of Pictionary; we wrote down nouns from the books and the kids took turns drawing them while everyone else guessed what the word was. This was a good way to get more discussion going about the books (the kids had to figure out how the word tied into the book). We also threw in a few words that had nothing to do with the book (like alien) to make it a little harder. Here’s the list of words, if you’re curious: Penderwicks Pictionary. We also ate snacks and ended with a craft (decorating door hangers–so you can keep those pesky siblings out).
We got some of these questions from the Hennepin County Library website.
- Describe the four sisters and what makes them unique.
- How many brothers and sisters do you have? Do you all ever act like the Penderwicks?
- Would you want a bedroom with a “secret passage” to a brother’s or sister’s room?
- Do you think Rosalind likes being the oldest and most responsible Penderwick?
- What do you think Batty thinks about being the youngest Penderwick? In what ways is she not like her older sisters?
- Since Batty seems to get into bad situations when she is left alone, do you think the older Penderwicks should keep a better eye on her? Why do you suppose they don’t?
- Why do you think Batty wore wings in the first place? And why do you think she gave them to Jeffrey?
- How do you think the story would be different if Mrs. Penderwick hadn’t died and was there with the family?
- Would you like to live in a huge house like Arundel? What do you suppose life is like for Jeffrey inside such a fancy house?
- Would you like a formal birthday party like Jeffrey’s, where everyone had to dress up?
- Jeffrey is an only child. Do you think Mrs. Tifton would act differently if she had more kids or there were usually more children around?
- Why is Jeffrey happier after the Penderwicks arrive? Do you think his life will be different in the future even after they go back home?
- What was your favorite adventure the Penderwicks had?
- With all the adventures the Penderwicks have that end in disasters, do you think Mrs. Tifton is ever right for being so upset?
- There are a lot of secrets in this book. Can you name a secret that someone keeps? Do you keep secrets from your friends or family? Are secrets the same as lying?
- What is your idea of a perfect vacation?
- When you saw the cover of this book did you think you would like it?
- What makes the story have an “old fashioned” feel? What clues did you have about when this story is set?
- Do you want to read the sequels?
- Did you like this book?
Need more inspiration for your Penderwicks book club? Random House also put out an Educator’s Guide for this book, which includes a Readers’ Theater script.