Jeanne Birdsall was born in the early 1950s and grew up in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Even as a child she felt drawn towards writing. Before publishing her first children’s book at the age of forty-one, she had several jobs, although her passion at the time was photography. Some of her pictures are in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian and in the Philadelphia Art Museum, among others.
Her début »The Penderwicks. A Summer Take of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy« (2005) takes its place in the tradition of classic children’s family sagas by American writers. The four Penderwick sisters spend a summer with their father in a summer house on the magicallynamed Arundel property. While the idyllic nature of the holiday dominates at first, the sisters initiate a chain of events when they side with the son of the tyrannical landlady. The story of the holi day experiences of the four sisters who, following the death of their mother, have assumed responsibility not only for their father, but also for the structured daily routines of family life, echoes the work of the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren – especially in its concentration on resolving problems and conflicts between the characters at the end of the story. Without any trace of the ubiquitous fantasy elements found in contemporary international children’s literature and with a healthy share of humour and comedy, the story incorporates melancholy and thoughtful moods despite the lightness of language and content. A sequel, »The Penderwicks on Gardam Street« (2008) continues the family’s story with similar contents and style. Jeanne Birdsall is currently working on a third book in the series about the Penderwick family.
A New York Times bestseller, »The Penderwicks« was awarded the prestigious National Book Award in 2005 in the category for Young People’s Literature and was included in numerous »Best Books of the Year« lists. Jeanne Birdsall lives with her husband and numerous animals in Northampton, Massachusetts.
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