Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks in Spring is pretty much everything you could want in a quadrequal. (Okay, I know that’s not a real word, but let’s move along…)
Like all successful sequels of books with sequels, it:
1) retains the spirit (read: oodles of genuine Penderwick charm) of its predecessors,
2) is perfectly satisfying to read as a stand-alone,
3) yet builds upon the existing story/universe thus far by bringing something new
One such “something new” is Batty’s (now almost eleven!) love of music and budding passion for singing. And she, her musical mentors, and Birdsall by extension, have impeccable taste in music.
“I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” or the song when Batty first realizes she has real singing talent. Larghetto in the key of C. Mrs. Grunfeld, the new music teacher, gives the choir a break from the plodding “Shenandoah” in favor of “I Go to Rio.”
The plaintive “Not a Day Goes By,” from Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, performed by Lea Salonga.
I had to include “A Weekend in the Country” from Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, which Batty has listened to “eight million times.” I like to imagine that she sings all the parts in character.
And, of course, Jeffrey’s (aka Batty’s mentore) favorite Beethoven symphony, the Eroica, conducted by Herbert von Karajan.