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The Pennywhistle Tree

The Pennywhistle Tree

by Doris Buchanan Smith, Leslie Bowman (Illustrator)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sixth-grader Jonathon and his pals Alex, Benjy and Craig are dismayed when their neighborhood is invaded by seven ragged, noisy children--the new occupants of the previously vacant corner house. The oldest and brashest of the lot, Sanders George, elicits growing animosity from most of the neighbors, but Jonathon has mixed feelings about the new boy who shares his passion for music and has, like Jonathon, experienced the grief of losing a younger sibling. It is only in the end, minutes before the George family moves on to another town, that Jonathon acts out his compassion for the boy who has been deprived of many things that most children take for granted. Smith's ( Voyages ; Return to Bitter Creek ) story will doubtless touch readers, yet its poignancy is weakened by stiff dialogue and uneven characterizations. The neighborhood boys' shifting levels of maturity are confusing, while Sanders, whose sensitivity, protective nature and desperation to find a friend are obvious from the beginning, is miscast as a bully. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-- Jonathan and the three other 11-year-old boys in their coastal Georgia neighborhood have been best friends always, playing and biking together, and sharing pleasant times in the low sprawling branches of a large live oak. While his friends are beginning to specialize in football, Jonathan is serious about music--piano, flute, and his old standby pennywhistle which, carefully cached in the tree, is always ready for a tune. Then along comes Sanders George, belligerent and aggressive, the eldest of a large poor family who move in down the street. The George children seem to be everywhere, intruding upon and disturbing the well-ordered neighborhood. Even Jonathan's parents have difficulty accepting this unacceptable family. But Jonathan's innate sensitivity to others' feelings keeps bumping up against his outrage at Sanders's behavior. He discovers that Sanders, too, has a gift for music and a need for friends. But hidden under layers of rough bluster is a stark secret--he cannot read. Just when Jonathan determines to risk losing his old friendships by reaching out to Sanders, the George family suddenly moves on. Jonathan and Sanders are each well-realized characters--typical school kids on the surface, but further revealed as individuals who do not fit a common mold. Smith meticulously reveals the changing levels of behavior and attitude in each character with a fine intertwining of action and reaction, misconception and perception. Thoughtful readers will find truths in this story worth pondering alone or discussing in a group. --Katharine Bruner, Brown Middle School, Harrison, TN

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 5.74(h) x 0.70(d)
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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