1. Ah, series fiction. I love it, but only when books can be read completely independent of one another. Like you, I like the old books’ references to other books and life that date them. However, when Blackberries and iphones, or even just cell phones…though not as badly, are referred to, I feel that current books are dated, too, and not positively.

    The covers are what first drew me in to pulling the first book off the library’s audio shelf! I love them, too, and think they capture the books well.

    Thank you for no spoilers! I also discourage romance for children…but had my own big crushes. With all the media romance is certainly thought to be normal between children…but really, should it be? Nope, not in my opinion.

    Looking forward to this one! Thanks!

  2. Annette–I like series fiction so much better when I don’t have to remember what happened in the last book! I agree about the technology, although I do wonder if I only feel that way about gadgets that have recently become obsolete (or are still being used today). For example, I think the mention of a phonograph would add to the charm of a story, but if a story were to mention an iPod, I would inconsistently wonder if anyone will even know what that is in a few years.

  3. I haven’t read this series but I had to comment to say I love love loved the Amy and Laura series. I’ve been thinking about reading this series myself. We listened to the first one on audiobook (but it was a time when my husband was in the car more than me so I didn’t hear much of it). I think my kids liked it but just a bit.

    I think series like this one or something like The Saturdays or even Harry Potter are very different than series like Trixie Belden (which I loved as a kid) or the A to Z mysteries or something like that. I’m not sure how to articulate the difference but there is one. Maybe it’s that the former are a group of well written books that happen to be about the same group of characters while the latter seem to be mass produced.

    As for romance, my kids are young so I don’t know how I’ll feel when they are bigger. But in general I’m ok with it as long as it’s age appropriate. I think middle schoolers do have crushes. They think about romance, or at least I did and most of the ones I knew did. But in a fairly innocent way. So as long as it’s reflective of reality and kept age appropriate I’m ok with it.

    • Amy

      Alice, You articulated very well exactly what I’ve been thinking about series fiction. I think that perhaps the difference is that some series are written (perhaps? maybe?) with the intention that they’ll go on and on and on and on as long as the money rolls in. (Perhaps it’s not quite as mercenary as that, but you know what I mean.) Others, I think, are simply a set of related novels, each of which is a story in its own right. And I also agree with you about the romance in middle grade (and even YA) books. It’s okay with me if it’s kept age-appropriate (and I agree with the author in terms of what IS age appropriate! 😉 ).

  4. These are great questions and thoughts… They make me think about my own very unformulated reactions to series fiction.

    Do the Narnia books or the Little House books count as series fiction? I loved them. But right now my girls are on a Magic Treehouse kick, and I don’t really like those books at all. Disliked Left Behind. Enjoyed Nancy Drew as a child, for a season anyway. Somehow all these reading experiences go into the pot and contribute to my reading tastes and judgments.

    I don’t mind dated references. They’re part of the placed world of a book, as you say… I don’t THINK I mind my girls having crushes either (I certainly had them! — one of many ways to imagine being a grown-up), but we haven’t really had to deal with that yet. I guess it depends on the frame of reference a child comes from. My kids are innocent, but I’m afraid young children are exposed to adult themes and behavior much more often in our time than even when I was young.

    • Amy

      Janet, I don’t really think about Narnia or even LHotP as series fiction, for some reason. Perhaps The Penderwicks will end up similarly. I hope so! I’m with you on Magic Treehouse, too–I’m not crazy about that series. Lulu is still on her Boxcar Children kick, and while I’m still trying to “help” her find the good ones (those actually written by Gertrude Chandler Warner), there are only so many of those. Ah, well–I loved Trixie Belden as a child and I don’t think it hurt me too much. 🙂

  5. I appreciated your thoughts on series fiction, although I can’t really provide any answers to your questions! I do love series fiction, because once you fall in love with certain characters, it’s wonderful not to have to say good-bye to them after one book.

    I’d love you to stop by my review and say hello…

    Cindy at Cindy’s Book Club

  6. Of course, I can’t remember what it was, but it seems like when we listened to a Ramona audiobook, they referenced something that my girls had to ask me about … I know when we have listened to Narnia they asked me what a wireless was. I think it just depends on how it is used in a the story … I remember seeing or hearing something about a country song that used emailing or something in it. That to me, seemed to be taking it a bit too far.

    I so loved this book. I need to read it again … soon. : )

    • Amy

      Stephanie, I think my dislike of references that will become dated has to do with whether it’s something I think will be quickly outdated. I don’t mind references that I find quaint, etc.–I just sort of scratch my head when an author sticks in something that I think will be obsolete pretty soon. I guess I’m inconsistent. 🙂

  7. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve read the other two. I hope to read this 3rd one with my daughter this summer.

    It’s interesting that you mention the cultural references (to books) in this story, b/c I’ve felt like the first two were quite timeless, and I love that.

    As far as romance — I am working on a YA review that will post at 5M4B soon. I read it, and Amanda (almost 13) wanted to read it, and I let her. There was some behavior that stretched my comfort zone for her a bit, but what was important to me and tipped the scales in the end was that it wasn’t painted in a favorable light. The truth is that as an 8th grader, she’s going to know people who make out, drink — whatever. She chooses not to do those things, and I think that she will continue in that vein, but I can’t just pretend it doesn’t exist. Other more mature YA titles paint this behavior as just something that happens, and those are definitely books that I don’t allow her to read, if that makes sense.

    I loved the portrait of Rosalind’s crush in the first one, although when I read it this month, I was surprised she was only 12. In my memory, she was 13 or 14 — being so old and responsible.

    (And I know — or am assuming — that the Penderwick girls aren’t running around making out and getting drunk — it was just a thought about romance in books for tweens or young teens)

  8. Amy


    Yes, I think that’s what I was trying to get at in my post, which I really failed to explain: the first two books seemed “timeless,” but this one, because of the reference I mentioned, seemed more modern.

    I guess I don’t really have a problem with age-appropriate romance in stories , but I think I would’ve liked Rosalind’s relationship better if she had been older. 😉

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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