SPOILER ALERT..... THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
You've been warned!
...there is some talk of kissing in these books! It’s very mild and fairly sweet in its approach, but it does gnaw at me a little bit (thus, the postscript) because the oldest Penderwick daughter is only 12.
My concerns may have you nodding in agreement…or thinking that I’m a total prude. I accept that. When I was 12, I was kissing boys…and I’m neither proud of this fact nor desirous of a similar fate for my daughters. Why? Because I believe—with all the hindsight that my pre-conversion lifestyle affords me—that the first kiss should be saved for when you’re older…and (if possible) for “the one”.
Of course, I agree with Margaret. I believe my first kiss took place behind the coat closet in Kindergarten, my first "real" boyfriend was in the 4th grade... he even gave me jewelry. That was the world I grew up in and it was considered innocent and sweet at that time but the world has changed and if I could go back and do things over differently, I would. So, my thoughts were these:
Are you talking about in the third book when Jane actually does get kissed in the park by the skater boy, Dominic (the quick peck on the lips)? Because I thought that was very well done in showing the negative consequences of that decision based on Jane's reaction (giving him the "love poem") and then in his response when he tells her later "it meant nothing." We had a wonderful conversation about how misplaced affection and infatuation really doesn't mean the same thing as real love. When you see the problems it creates and how it affects Jane, it's not presented in a favorable light. And how the secular world does think it's OK for 12 years to date and exchange affection but if those things are supposed to be reserved for finding the person God has made for you to marry, then 12 really is a silly age to be participating in those things since no 12 year old is even close to being ready to marry (the 12 and 13 year old nodded their heads in fierce agreement). We also discussed the pressure that Dominic was responding to from his older brothers who had bound him to the dare in the first place. Wouldn't it have been more virtuous to have stood up to them instead of fold under their influence? Perhaps his encounter with Jane would be enough to help him see that girls are people with real feelings not playthings or scores to be tallied. (The blue words are just more thoughts expounded on here, not at Margaret's.) It was an opportunity for discussion just like the bad family situation presented in Jeffrey's life.
I was initially hesitant to give these books to my kids because of the divorce factor. When you really do a character study of Jeffrey and his family situation through all of the books, you see that the divorce situation is most the difficult on the children and has far reaching ramifications. I can see where some people might be disappointed that those elements are in a children's story, but I look at how they are presented and dealt with before I determine if they are inappropriate.
Margaret mentions a conversation that takes place between Rosalind and Jane in which kissing Tommy is discussed to which Rosalind responds that it's none of her business.
I don't remember that scene specifically between Rosalind and Jane in the third book, but it doesn't surprise me because from the very beginning Jane is fixated on love and romance. It's very obvious even though she presents it as research for her latest Sabrina Starr story (which I believe is the character of Jane's subconscious). So, most likely inspired by her father's new "situation", these ideas of love and romance have entered Jane's awareness and she is mulling them over the best way she knows how... via her writing.
I think it could be used as an excellent example and caution to young girls to not allow themselves to become captivated by an unrealistic idea of romance. I've known one too many young girls, myself included, who's infatuation with "romance" led them to make stupid decisions most of which ultimately lead to a "broken heart". I want my daughters (and sons) to have a correct understanding of romance in it's proper place and age!