Can you believe it? It’s Episode 100!  And amazingly, we just crossed over a pretty huge milestone here at The Read-Aloud Revival: over 4 million downloads of the podcast.

You know, I couldn’t have picked a better guest for this week’s 100th episode celebration. In today’s episode, I’m chatting with Jeanne Birdsall, author of the Penderwicks series.

The final book in the series, The Penderwicks at Last is available today, so your Penderwicks fans are going to want to get their hands on that right away.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • what is was like for Jeanne to get her first book published
  • how she always imagined the Penderwicks series as one single story
  • which books inspired her writing (I bet you can guess a few!)

Click the play button below:

Listener Guide

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

  • 1:49 Meet Jeanne
  • 3:32 The first Penderwicks book gets published
  • 8:23 Jeanne’s writing process
  • 11:53 Where the story came from
  • 14:28 Get signed copies!
  • 15:09 Which books inspired Jeanne
  • 16:52 What you might not know about the characters
  • 21:03 Ahhhh, Mr. Penderwick
  • 22:27 Questions about the craft of writing
  • 27:42 The hardest part of writing
  • 29:26 Let’s talk about revision
  • 32:23 What’s next from Jeanne BIrdsall…
  • 33:53 Book 5: The Penderwicks at Last
  • 37:58 Fan mail
  • 39:14 Writing tips
  • 44:06 Let the kids speak

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Quotes to Remember:

What I wanted to do is to be part of the conversation that started with E. Nesbit, Edward Eagar, C. S. Lewis, Elizabeth Enright, Eleanor Estes.  I’m talking back to them. I’m saying, “Thank you for this. I love this part.” But, I’m also talking forward to the people who are reading my books. And then I tell children, ‘Maybe you’ll be part of the conversation, too.’

“That first rush of ‘Oh, I can do whatever I want’ is too much for me, there’s too many possibilities. I love it when that’s all in place, and then I can really start with the emotions, the funny stuff, and the conversation. That’s what I love the most. I’m actually a revision-driven writer… which is lucky for me.”

“Just read voraciously. The written language- the way you tell a story in written language- is different than oral language. Some things are longer, some things are shorter, there’s a different rhythm, there are different words you use; you have to learn that language before you can start creating in it … But, the good thing about my method is that you get to read lots of books.”

(Download the transcript above for more quotes and pull-outs.)

Books from this episode:

(All links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Episode 100
The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

A classic about an orphan who struggles to adjust to her new life until she discovers a secret garden. Excellent for all ages. Look for the one with illustrations by Tasha Tudor!

More info →
Buy from Amazon
100 Cupboards (100 Cupboards, Bk 1)

100 Cupboards (100 Cupboards, Bk 1)

$7.99

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

When Henry’s parents are kidnapped, he’s sent to stay with relatives in Kansas. One morning Henry awakes to find his new room full of cupboards -- but not just cupboards -- portals.

More info →
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Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

The Cuthberts are expecting a boy to help work on their farm, Green Gables. Instead, they get “Anne with an e,” who will surely win girls’ hearts with her spunky personality and big imagination.

More info →
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Little Women (Puffin in Bloom)

Little Women (Puffin in Bloom)

The March sisters are each distinctive in their own way, but they band together to help their mother while their father is serving in the Civil War. The original version follows the girls as they grow into womanhood. Girls might enjoy identifying with a particular sister -- Meg, Jo, Beth or Amy.

More info →
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The Penderwicks

The Penderwicks

FROM SARAH:

One of my tippy-top recommendations... if your kids haven't met the Penderwicks yet, it's time! A summer of misadventure ensues when four sisters meet a very interesting boy (and a couple of rabbits, too!) at a summer cottage in New England. Boys and girls alike enjoy this whole series. Hear Jeanne Birdsall talk about writing this series on her episode of Read-Aloud Revival.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel's sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts.

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
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Jo’s Boys (Bantam Classics)

Jo’s Boys (Bantam Classics)

FROM SARAH

The third in the series starting with Little Women and followed by Little Men. The boys in Jo's school have grown up in this bittersweet finale.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Set 10 years after Little Men, Jo's Boys revisits Plumfield, the New England school still presided over by Jo and her husband, Professor Bhaer. Jo's Boys — including sailor Emil, promising musician Nat, and rebellious Dan — are grown. Jo remains at the center of this tale, holding her boys fast through shipwreck and storm, disappointment...and even murder.

More info →
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Little Men (Puffin Classics)

Little Men (Puffin Classics)

FROM SARAH

Jo of Little Women fame is all grown up and has started a school. Homeschoolers might find some tips and ideas in this sweet sequel.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

In the treasured follow-up to Little Women, Jo March returns as a mother of two sons and schoolmaster to twelve orphans. Now Jo Bhaer, literature’s beloved heroine has transformed Plumfield, the decorous New England estate of the March sisters’ youth, into a progressive school.

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Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle

Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle

$16.99

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Sam Miracle’s life is made up of dreams, dreams where he’s a courageous, legendary hero instead of a foster kid with two bad arms that can barely move. Sometimes these dreams feel so real, they seem like forgotten memories. And sometimes they make him believe that his arms might come alive again.

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Flora’s Very Windy Day

Flora’s Very Windy Day

$6.99

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

"This gem of a book will resonate with older siblings everywhere." --School Library Journal When Flora and her pesky little brother, Crispin, are whisked away by a swirling and swooping wind, she gets the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to give her brother away.

More info →
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By C. S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set: Full-Color Collector’s Edition

By C. S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set: Full-Color Collector’s Edition

**Description from Amazon: Experience all of The Chronicles of Narnia with full color pictures throughout in this seven-book heavy-weight paperback box set. Readers of all ages-whether they are experiencing Narnia for the first time or returning once again to the magical world-will love seeing the creatures and landscapes of ...

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The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

**Description from Amazon: With over one million copies sold, this series of modern classics about the charming Penderwick family from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestseller Jeanne Birdsall is perfect for fans of Noel Streatfeild and Edward Eager.When summer comes around, it's off to the beach for Rosalind...

More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

**Description from Amazon: With over one million copies sold, this series of modern classics about the charming Penderwick family from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestseller Jeanne Birdsall is perfect for fans of Noel Streatfeild and Edward Eager.The Penderwick sisters are home on Gardam Street and ready f...

More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
The Penderwicks in Spring

The Penderwicks in Spring

FROM SARAH:

I recommend the whole series, but this one, book #4, is a masterpiece! RAR Families tell me the Penderwicks series remains a family favorite for all ages. And nope, it's not just for girls. My boys loved it every bit as much as their sisters. Ages 6-14 will probably enjoy them most. 

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Springtime is finally arriving on Gardam Street, and there are surprises in store for each member of the family.
Some surprises are just wonderful, like neighbor Nick Geiger coming home from war. And some are ridiculous, like Batty’s new dog-walking business. Batty is saving up her dog-walking money for an extra-special surprise for her family, which she plans to present on her upcoming birthday. But when some unwelcome surprises make themselves known, the best-laid plans fall apart.

More info →
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Buy from Libro.fm
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The Penderwicks at Last

The Penderwicks at Last

$16.99

**Description from Amazon: The finale you've all been waiting for: The Penderwicks at Last is the final, flawless installment in the modern classic series from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Jeanne Birdsall!Nine years, five older siblings, a few beloved dogs, and an endless array of adventure...

More info →
Buy from Amazon
My Favorite Pets: by Gus W. for Ms. Smolinski’s Class

My Favorite Pets: by Gus W. for Ms. Smolinski’s Class

$16.99

**Description from Amazon: A hilarious picture book from New York Times bestselling author of The Penderwicks Jeanne Birdsall and New York Times bestselling illustrator Harry Bliss about one child's outrageous school essay on his "pet" sheep.   Things to know about sheep: Sheep live outside. Sheep have wool. Sheep will not l...

More info →
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Lucky and Squash

Lucky and Squash

$16.99

**Description from Amazon: Lucky and Squash are next-door neighbors and best friends. But there's a locked gate between them, so they can never play together. If only their owners fell in love and got married, Lucky and Squash would be brothers. . . . Unfortunately, Miss Violet and Mr. Bernard have never even said hello to ea...

More info →
Buy from Amazon
Moods: (Louisa May Alcott Classics Collection)

Moods: (Louisa May Alcott Classics Collection)

$9.99

**Description from Amazon: The room fronted the west, but a black cloud, barred with red, robbed the hour of twilight's tranquil charm. Shadows haunted it, lurking in corners like spies set there to watch the man who stood among them mute and motionless as if himself a shadow. His eye turned often to the window with a glance ...

More info →
Buy from Amazon
The Story of the Treasure Seekers: Complete and Unabridged (Puffin Classics)

The Story of the Treasure Seekers: Complete and Unabridged (Puffin Classics)

$5.99
Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 100
Tag: Episode 100

**Description from Amazon: When their father's business fails, the six Bastable children decide to restore the family fortunes. But although they think of many ingenious ways to do so, their well meant efforts are either more fun than profitable, or lead to trouble...

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Buy from Amazon