Skip to Main Content

Book Club Kits: The Penderwicks

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

Cover Image

Jeanne Birdsall

Check Availability

To request this kit, click link above.

Alamance County Public Libraries

Alamance County Public Libraries provide free and open access to lifelong learning, resources for everyday living, and reading for pleasure in a welcoming environment.  Our collections, services and programs enhance the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. Contact the Library webmaster.

Alamance County Public Libraries operates as a Department of Alamance County Government.  Visit the Alamance County Website at

Book Summary

Meet the Penderwicks, four different sisters with one special bond. There’s responsible, practical Rosalind; stubborn, feisty Skye; dreamy, artistic Jane; and shy little sister Batty, who won't go anywhere without her butterfly wings.

When the girls and their doting father head off for their summer holiday, they're in for a surprise.  Instead of the tumbledown cottage they expected, they find themselves on a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon the girls are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel's sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the most wonderful discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel's owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.

The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they?

One thing's for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.

Read an excerpt from the novel.

Discussion Questions

  • What makes the story have an "old fashioned" feel?

  • 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?

  • Have you ever been anywhere on vacation where you've had adventures? What would be your idea of a perfect week? Have you ever had one?

  • Did you like this book? Why or why not?

  • Who was your favorite character? What was your favorite scene?

  • Which sister ARE you like the most? Why?

  • Which sister DID you like the most? Why?

  • Why do you suppose Skye is always saying and doing things that get her in trouble?

  • Have you ever seen a garden with a tunnel through a hedge? Would you like a tunnel from your backyard to a friend's house?

  • Would you want a bedroom with a "secret passage" to a brother's or sister's room? Why or why not?

  • Hound is as much as part of the family as any of the sisters. What ways might the stories have been different if Hound hadn't been with the girls?

  • Why do you think Mr. Penderwick speaks Latin all the time, even if the girls don't understand him?

  • How many brothers and sisters do you have? Do you all ever act like the Penderwicks? In what ways?

  • What do you think Batty thinks about being the youngest Penderwick? In what ways is she not like her older sisters?

  • From the cover, did you think this might be an old-fashioned story that took place a long time ago? What clues did you have about when this story is set?

  • Why do you suppose that the mothers in stories are often gone? Does it make you sad?

  • Yaz and Carla, the rabbits, are a part of the subtitle on the cover, but how important are they in the story?

  • Why do you think Batty wore wings in the first place? And why do you think she gave them to Jeffrey?

  • Do you think Mrs. Tifton will marry Dexter Dupree? Why or why not?

  • Was it a good idea or a bad idea for Jeffrey to run away? Why?

  • When Jane, the imaginative writer, shows her book to Dexter Dupree, he is extremely rude to her. Even though he said terrible things, should she have begun ripping up her hard work because of what one person said? Why or why not?

  • It's pretty obvious how Rosalind feels about Cagney. How do you suppose Cagney feels about Rosalind?

  • With all the adventures the Penderwicks have that end in disasters, do you think Mrs. Tifton is ever right for being so upset? Why or why not?

  • Jane has a great imagination. Do you think she thinks her sisters are unimaginative? Why or why not?

  • Did you at first think, like the Penderwicks did, that Hound the dog had killed Yaz the rabbit?

  • Do you think Rosalind likes being the oldest and most responsible Penderwick? Why or why not?

  • Churchie the housekeeper seems to know how to always do and say just the right thing. Would you like to have someone like Churchie at your house? Why or why not?

  • Would you like a formal birthday party like Jeffrey's, where everyone had to dress up? Why or why not?

  • What do you suppose life is like for Jeffrey inside such a fancy house? Do you think he gets to play much? Or make messes? Or ever have fun?

  • Were you worried when Batty first went into the field with the bull? What did you think might happen? Were you surprised by what did happen?

  • Jeffrey and the Penderwick sisters become fast friends. If you had met any of them, do you think you would have been friends, too? Why or why not?

  • Jeffrey is an only child. Do you suppose Mrs. Tifton would act differently if there were usually more children around? Why or why not?

  • 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?

  • Do you want to read the sequel, "The Penderwicks on Gardam Street"? Why or why not?