I was a big fan of the original Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. I still liked the second book, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, though I thought it had the potential to be "sweeter than yuck." The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, the third book, I thought rambled, without a tight story line. That's how I felt about the most recent Penderwick offering, The Penderwicks in Spring, too.
The story was pretty much Batty Penderwick's. She's the musical Penderwick who discovers she's even more musical than she thought. But Penderwickish distractions are going on around her. And Penderwickish distractions tend to teeter on the brink of being "sweeter than yuck," as I said above. Even a bad college boyfriend is bad in a safe way.
This particular book did have what seemed to me to be a particularly dark episode, not sweet at all, with Batty experiencing what sounds like a depressive episode or something similar. Her family took it very seriously, and she recovered with just their assistance. Which was nice, but I don't know how often a child is able to come back from something like that without a little professional help.
Yet with all the sweetness and improbable goodness, I still snatched time here and there from my work days to read it. What is the attraction these books have, at least for adults? I know I will probably read the next one.