Archive for January 1st, 2006

Favorite Fictional Families

January 1, 2006 @ 2:17 pm | Filed under:

(This post is a compendium of a series of posts I ran in December.)

PenderwicksThe Penderwicks : A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall.

“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.”

Here’s what has me excited: I keep coming across reviews that compare Jeanne Birdsall’s work to some of our tippy-top favorite authors. Like this, from Booklist:

“Birdsall follows in the footsteps of Elizabeth Enright, Edward Eager, and Noel Streatfeild, updating the family story yet keeping all of the old-fashioned charm.”

And from Kirkus:

“Not since the Marches have readers met more engaging girls than the Penderwicks.”

The Marches?! Hello! We are so there. Review to come, after I get my hands on a copy. I’m chomping at the bit…

Other fiction featuring families of whom we are fiercely fond:

The Railway Children, Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, and a bunch of others by Edith Nesbit.

All the Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome.

The All-of-a-kind Family series by Sydney Taylor.

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson.

Noel Streatfeild’s Shoes books, especially Ballet Shoes and Dancing Shoes. (Gotta love Wintle’s Little Wonders!)

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott.

Half Magic by Edward Eager.

The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright.

Ginger Pye and Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes.

And of course we mustn’t forget The Chronicles of Narnia by our beloved C. S. Lewis. The Pevensie clan is one of the best families ever.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. This book has been an annual tradition for me since Mrs. Beville read it to my fifth-grade class. Now Scott reads it to our kids, who are slightly better mannered than the obnoxious Herdman crew but just as full of provoking questions. The Herdmans, as unruly a bunch of young hoodlums as ever burned down a neighbor’s shed, have a way of jarring people out of their unexamined ruts, startling them into examining, thinking, noticing—even if only in self-defense. For that, and for their alarming frankness, I adore these foul-mouthed, looting, hooting Herdman kids.

UPDATE: This morning I was doing dishes while enjoying the very loud music Scott had turned on for Wonderboy’s enjoyment (having a hearing-impaired son gives him license, at long last, to play music at the volumes he believes to his core to be vital to a truly authentic listening experience), and a family flashed into my mind—one of my favorite fictional families, how could I forget? No, wait! TWO families! I foolishly forgot them both!

So to our list let us add, posthaste:

The Murray/O’Keefe clan and the Austin bunch, those classical-music-listening, Nobel-prize-winning, space-and-time-traveling, poetry-quoting, dolphin-befriending, adventure-having folks from Madeleine L’Engle’s books.

And over at Love2Learn, Love2LearnMom points out quite rightly that I neglected to mention the wonderful families in Hilda van Stockum’s books—an omission over which Jane shrieked in consternation when the news reached her ears.

I’m sure there are other families who ought to be on the list—please write and share your favorites!