The Peterkins were a lovable but comically inept family that possess ingenuity, logic, resourcefulness, and energy--but not common sense. The general formula is that the family tries to solve some problem in an appealingly roundabout way, fails, and is eventually rescued by «the wise old lady from Philadelphia» who always cuts the Gordian knot with some effective but prosaic solution. The charm of the story is not in the plot, but in the telling, with the building up of layers of complication, and the affectionate fun poked at the not-quite-cartoonish characters. The «wise old lady's» solution is usually obvious to the reader, or even the young listener, from the start. (From Wikipedia)
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