First Time Author Wins National Book Award

Jeanne Birdsall has won the 2005 National Book Award in the Young People's Literature category. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and Very Interesting Boy won the coveted award for this first-time author. It is the story of a widowed botany professor and his four daughters who spend a summer in the Berkshires.
A reviewer for School Library Journal said, "Problems are solved and lessons are learned in this wonderful, humorous book that features characters whom readers will immediately love, as well as a superb writing style. Bring on more of the Penderwicks!"


I have to say, that as a person who does not enjoy young adult contemporary fiction very much, I REALLY enjoyed this title. The best way that I have found to describe it to people is as a mix of Jane Austen and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Great book!

Oh, the Best Christmas Pageant Ever? I love that book. The Penderwicks sounds like a good read, but an award winner? I'll have to check it out, but I've been seeing some criticism of the choice.

I haven't read criticism of the choice per se, but a few comments that Myers should have won. I disagree. The Penderwicks is a magnificent and hopeful book - - a quality the young adult judges were apparently especially keen on (according to the broadcast of the event that I watched). The tradition in children's literature of innocent summer adventures, close-knit families, and smart girls solving their own problems and learning important lessons in the process deserves (and has been given with this award) a place of honor in the field, as much as the newer tradition of edgy books about murders and rapes and abuse.