Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Penderwicks

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The Penderwicks

A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2005, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2007, 272 pages

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Jeanne Birdsall grew up in the suburbs west of Philadelphia.  She says she first decided to become a writer when she was ten years old, but it took her until she was forty-one to get started. In the years in between she held many 'strange jobs' and also worked as a photographer, with some of her photos in the permanent collections of museums, including the Smithsonian and the Philadelphia Art Museum. She now lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, in an old and comfortable house, full of unruly animals and surrounded by gardens.

In a rather charming interview that used to reside on her website but seems to have been removed, Jane, one of the fictional Penderwick children, asks Jeanne questions about herself including:

Jane: You don't have any children of your own, and your stepchildren are quite grown-up. Why do you write for children?

Jeanne: I remember my own childhood very well, and love the books I first read then better than most "adult" books I've read since. And, too, my niece and nephew—Kelsey and Jesse—live nearby and keep me honest about childhood.

Jane: How do I get my Sabrina Starr books published?

Jeanne: Didn't you learn your lesson from that awful Dexter? You're too young to worry about publishing. Just read, read, read, and write, write, write, and everything will work out fine.

This article was originally published in November 2005, and has been updated for the March 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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