Library Programs

The Penderwicks Book Club

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.


The plan:

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).

Discussion questions:
We got some of these questions from the Hennepin County Library website.

  1. Describe the four sisters and what makes them unique.
  2. How many brothers and sisters do you have? Do you all ever act like the Penderwicks?
  3. Would you want a bedroom with a “secret passage” to a brother’s or sister’s room?
  4. Do you think Rosalind likes being the oldest and most responsible Penderwick?
  5. What do you think Batty thinks about being the youngest Penderwick? In what ways is she not like her older sisters?
  6. 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?
  7. Why do you think Batty wore wings in the first place? And why do you think she gave them to Jeffrey?
  8. How do you think the story would be different if Mrs. Penderwick hadn’t died and was there with the family?
  9. 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?
  10. Would you like a formal birthday party like Jeffrey’s, where everyone had to dress up?
  11. 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?
  12. 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?
  13. What was your favorite adventure the Penderwicks had?
  14. With all the adventures the Penderwicks have that end in disasters, do you think Mrs. Tifton is ever right for being so upset?
  15. 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?
  16. What is your idea of a perfect vacation?
  17. When you saw the cover of this book did you think you would like it?
  18. What makes the story have an “old fashioned” feel? What clues did you have about when this story is set?
  19. Do you want to read the sequels?
  20. 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.

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