Cover image for The Penderwicks at last / Jeanne Birdsall.
The Penderwicks at last / Jeanne Birdsall.


First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, [2018]

Physical Description:
294 pages ; 22 cm.
General Note:
Series statement and numbering from publisher's website.

"This is a Borzoi book"--T.p. verso.
The Penderwick family return to Arundel for Rosalind's wedding, but Lydia, who has only heard stories of the grand estate, is eager to explore the place where her older siblings had endless adventures.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
BIR Book Junior Collection

On Order



Nine years, five older siblings, a few beloved dogs, and an endless array of adventures--these are the things that have shaped Lydia's journey since readers first met her in The Penderwicks in Spring .

Now it's summertime, and eleven-year-old Lydia is dancing at the bus stop, waiting for big sister Batty to get home from college.

This is a very important dance and a very important wait because the two youngest sisters are about to arrive home to find out that the Penderwicks will all be returning to Arundel this summer, the place where it all began. And better still is the occasion- a good old-fashioned, homemade-by-Penderwicks wedding.

Bursting with heart and brimming with charm, this is a joyful, hilarious ode to the family we love best. And oh my MOPS--Meeting of Penderwick Siblings--does Jeanne Birdsall's The Penderwicks at Last crescendo to one perfect Penderwick finale.

Author Notes

Jeanne Birdsall was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1951. Before becoming a children's author, she worked as a photographer. Some of her photographs are included in the permanent collections of museums, including the Smithsonian and the Philadelphia Art Museum. She didn't start writing until she was forty-one years old. Her first book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, was published in 2005. Her novels about the Penderwick family have collected several honors, including the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. She also writes picture books for younger children.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this final installment of Birdsall's Penderwicks series, the lovable, uniquely talented Penderwick family returns to the setting of the first novel, Arundel, a grand estate in the Berkshires, where oldest daughter Rosalind is to be wed to her boyfriend Tommy. Youngest daughter Lydia, now age 11, was not yet born when the rest of the clan visited there 15 years ago, but she's heard about its wonders and is thrilled to arrive early with sister Batty and their two dogs to help with preparations. In true Penderwick fashion, Lydia makes every day an adventure with her newfound friend Alice, the daughter of Arundel's caretaker. There are plenty of surprises in store for the two, including an array of welcome and unwelcome visitors. The excitement and boisterous activity that permeate all the previous books are in abundance here as well, as Lydia's siblings join her at Arundel, showcasing their individual skills and working together to creatively solve all conflicts during MOPS (meetings of Penderwick siblings). Full of reunions with old friends, fond remembrances of good times, and developments of new friendships (and at least one possible romance), the novel provides closure, and at the same time opens the door to new possibilities as Lydia and her brother and sisters go "prancing, leaping, gamboling into the future." Ages 8-12. Agent: Barbara S. Kouts. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

This closing volume in the beloved Penderwick series, featuring two sisters marriages and ones heartbreak, is told from the point of view of eleven-year-old Lydia, the youngest Penderwick half-sister. Denaker voices Lydia with a squeaky youthfulness that makes her childlike decision-making quite believable. Animal-loving Batty, now nineteen, is also voiced with a youngish, nasal tone that recalls her role as the former baby of the family, while other Penderwick sisters speak with the grace and fluidity of the young women they have grown to be. Best of all, Denaker infuses her general narration with the passion, flightiness, ingenuousness, and sense of possibility that characterize the Penderwick world. anita l. burkam (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Lydia believed in dancing wherever she could--on sidewalks, in supermarket aisles, libraries, swimming pools, parking lots. Today her stage was a bench at the bus stop. It was a challenge dancing on something so narrow, but Lydia took measures to keep from falling--small steps, no leaps, and heavy reliance on upper-body motion.   "Music, Maestro!" she said. "What tempo, Miss Penderwick? I believe I'm in the mood for something snappy, Maestro. Snappy it is, then."   Lydia's singing wasn't up to her dancing, and her inner maestro's humming was rarely on key, but the rhythm! Lydia and rhythm were as one while she bopped back and forth, being what her father called the Embodiment of Music. He'd come up with that when Lydia was too young to know what "embodiment" meant. She was now in fifth grade, though, and knew just about any words her father could come up with, as long as they were in English. (Sometimes he spoke in Latin.) Being the embodiment meant that she brought the spirit of music to life in her dancing.   One last spin, and Lydia bowed, waiting for applause that wouldn't come. There were no other people at the bus stop, and the Penderwick dogs weren't paying attention. The older of the two, Sonata, was asleep under the bench. Sonata was often asleep--Lydia's mother called her Zen Dog. The other dog, Feldspar, was Sonata's son, with the same goofy bug eyes, but he was no Zen Dog. He considered life an opportunity for excitement, especially these two parts of life: Lydia's older sister Batty and whatever he'd most recently found to carry around. Today it was a plastic clothes hanger.   "Remember not to chew it up and swallow the pieces," Lydia told him.   Feldspar eyed her with disdain. He knew better than to do such a silly thing. Somewhere deep in his mixed-breed DNA was a bit of retriever, and retrievers never ate the spoils of the hunt, especially when the spoils were plastic and didn't taste good. Just because he'd happened to accidentally eat one of Lydia's headbands didn't mean that his instincts were dead.   Lydia checked the road for incoming buses. She and the dogs were waiting for the one that would deliver Batty, who studied music in Boston. In Lydia's opinion, Batty didn't come home often enough, and left too soon when she did--this time, she'd be gone at the end of the weekend. Of all the Penderwick siblings, Batty was the one who best understood Lydia and her dancing. Probably because Batty was a musician, a singer--they were both expressing music, but in different ways.   With Batty away at college, only Lydia and her brother, Ben, were left at home with their parents. Ben was sixteen and cared primarily about watching and making movies with his best friend, Rafael. Sometimes they put Lydia in their movies. So far, she'd been a child genius murdered by her country's enemies, a chess champion killed by her insane rival, and Joan of Arc burnt at the stake; in the current project, she was a sentient apple that would be eaten at the end of the film. Weary of dying for her brother's art, Lydia wished he would find a new theme.   There were three other sisters in the family, grown-ups in their twenties. Two of them, Rosalind and Jane, lived in apartments not too far from home and were always popping in and out. The third, Skye, was in California, working on her doctorate in astrophysics. She'd been out west since she'd first left for college--when Lydia was only four--and could get back home to Massachusetts only a few times a year. Lydia missed her greatly. Family lore had it that she'd been the first tiny baby Skye was drawn to. Skye denied it, saying that she hadn't bothered much with Lydia until she was three and could speak some sense, but Lydia didn't believe that. She was certain she could remember being swaddled, safe and warm, gazing up into Skye's blue eyes.   No bus yet, so time for another dance. For this one, Lydia chose to express great longing and beauty with languid gestures. She'd have to imagine the great longing, as she hadn't experienced much of that, but beauty was all around her, in the daffodils abloom in the Ayvazians' yard, across from the bus stop, and--Lydia thought, privately--in her very own hair. She had no pretensions to beauty, but she did have good hair: red, with just the right amount of curliness. It was her mother's hair, and Ben's. None of the other siblings had this hair, because they'd had a different mother, who'd died long before Lydia was born.   As she brought her dance to an end, Feldspar began making the weird noise that his family politely called barking, though it was more a combination of whining and throat clearing. Anything else was impossible with your mouth full of a hanger. But he and Sonata had worked out a system--whenever Feldspar made that noise, Sonata chimed in with actual barking, so that together they made enough noise to accomplish whatever Feldspar had set out to do.   That's what happened now. Sonata woke up and raised her voice high, and Lydia jumped off the bench and took a firm hold on the dogs' leashes. She'd learned long ago that they could sense Batty's approach from afar. If they were clamoring, that meant Batty's bus was about to come into view. And there it was, cresting the hill, steadily approaching with its precious cargo.   When Batty got off the bus, beaming, as pleased to be home as her family would be to have her there, Lydia held back, knowing that the dogs were always greeted first. The dogs knew it, too, pressing against Batty, quivering with joy while she murmured her love to them and gently stroked them head to toe, reassuring herself that they were as happy and healthy as when she'd last seen them. Ben had once dubbed Batty the Saint Francis of Cameron--Cameron was the town where the Penderwicks lived--and no one had disputed him, except for Batty herself, who believed that it should be normal, not saintly, to have limitless love for animals.   Excerpted from The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.