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!

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10 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Jen Robinson says:

    Boy, Melissa, this post made me want to go right to my bookshelf, and visit the families that you mentioned that I have there. I especially love the Melendy family (from the Saturdays) and the Austins and O’Keefes. I’m really going to have to check out Swallows and Amazons soon! Thanks!

  2. samantha says:

    I also like the Ingalls family, from the Little House books.

    Some Aussie ones include the Billabong books (by Mary Grant Bruce) where not only is there the Linton family but everyone on the cattle station is part of their family, and the Seven Little Australians books by Ethel Turner.

  3. Happyheartsmom says:

    Wow, Lissa, I don’t know how I missed this post last year, I’m printing for some very enjoyable read-alouds for Spring as we’ve missed a few of these along the way!! Thanks for a great list.

  4. Rachel M says:

    I’m so glad you linked to this post in your sidebar. We love so many of these families, too, and it’s so good to see them mentioned and loved here. It makes them even more real. I second the Ingalls family, including the earlier generations:) And I can’t wait to look up the families you mentioned that we haven’t gotten acquainted with yet.

  5. Stacey says:

    personal favorite from childhood is the Meldendy family who are in books like the Four-story Mistake, The Saturdays, and two other by Elizabeth Enright.

  6. Kelly says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Loving your blog. I’m a first-time visitor. Anyway, we LOVE books at our house, too. You must read or listen to the audio version of “The Willoughby’s” by Lois Lowry. Hilarious!!! They are definitely one of our fav familys.