A Tuesday Ten: Sisters!

So I saw Frozen this weekend and loved it.  It struck me that it is rare in Disney animation to see siblings, let alone two sisters.  Elsa and Anna capture both the powerful connection of the sibling bond and the pain and hurt when siblings cannot reach out to each other.  It’s a pretty amazing movie.  So this week lets look at stories with sisters.  The main requirements are that the sister in the story must have a key role in the story as a sister. 


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c1962)

So let’s start with perhaps one of my favorite sisters of all literature. Meg Murray.  A compassionate and intelligent heroine who must struggle against her own self doubts and fears to rescue her father and ultimately to free her brother from the grip of evil.  It is Meg as sister who can triumph over IT for the sake of her little brother.  Meg’s work as a sister doesn’t end there.  In the sequel to this book, A Wind in the Door Meg is called upon again to protect her brother from evil forces that have taken to invading the boy’s body.  Once more, Meg will face danger and possible death to save her brother.  And don’t forget one more sister: in A Swiftly Tilting Planet  Mrs. O’Keefe will have her own role to play, as battered and heartbroken as life has left her.


The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley (Amulet Books, c2005)

This is the first book in the 9-book series The Sisters Grimm.  All nine feature the adventures of Sabrina and Daphne Grimm as they discover the true meaning of their family name and heritage.  Ever since their parents disappeared one night, the girls have been shuffled around in the foster system, each place worse than the next.  That is, until they end up being sent to their grandmother in Ferry Port and discover that their family is descended from the original brothers Grimm, and that fairytale characters, or Ever Afters, are real–and often dangerous.  Part mystery, part adventure, all fun,  these two down to earth sisters must face all things magical to solve a whodunnit!  Daphne and Sabrina are a perfect example of sisters who argue and fight with each other (as sisters do) but still care about each other and stick by each other.


download (7)

Mind-Hold by Wilanne Schneider Belden (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c1987)

In this story, the protector is the brother. Carson’s baby sister is a powerful telekinetic who has always managed to bully what she wants out of others, leaving even her parents helpless, and Carson to deal with her.  When a massive earthquake leaves the two on their own, they wind up welcomed into a religious commune.  Carson tries to protect his sister and keep her from revealing her abilities, fearful of the power-hungry leader of the community.  A story about friction and duty between brothers and sisters–oh and psychic powers too!


Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee (Knopf Books for Young Readers, January 2014)

Ophelia, the heroine of this story, has an older sister Alice.  Since their mother’s death, the emotional distance between the two sisters has grown  worse, until the two rarely see eye to eye.  But it is Ophelia who will be called upon to protect and rescue her older sister from danger.  Despite her fears and doubts, Ophelia will brave all obstacles to reach her sister rather than lose her.  While this isn’t the central plot of the book, it’s still an important theme and subplot to the story.


Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, 2003)

Before  the author’s Hunger Games fame, she wrote a pretty popular middle grade series–The Underland Chronicles— that began with this book.  Gregor must go after his 3 year old sister when she falls impossibly far down a grate in their laundry room and winds up in a kingdom of giant creatures and purple-eyed humans.  Throughout the story, Gregor must do his best not only to succeed in his quest adventure, but to take care of his sister, who has become quite friendly with the giant roaches . . .  Hunger Games probably deserves a shout-out here despite it’s YA status, since Katniss’ motivation to volunteer for the games is completely to protect her sister from having to go.


Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space by Philip Reeve, illustrated by David Wyett (Bloomsbury, 2006)

Myrtle Mumsby is the annoying sister of Arthur in this high adventure Victorian space-opera!  When the two of them go off on a journey that will send them through the farthest reaches of space, it’ll take both siblings dauntless pluck and fortitude to see thing through and defeat blackest evil.  Myrtle (who narrates part of  the tale herself) may come across as annoying at times, but she is quite resourceful on the whole!  This is the first book in the Larklight trilogy.


The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge (HarperCollins, 2009)

Arilou is a special girl on the island of Gullstruck.  She is a prophetess, one of the mystical Lost, a girl to be treasured.  Or is she?  Hathin, Arilou’s younger and mostly invisible sister and attendant, knows the truth of the matter.  But truth can be a tricky thing when so many people are plotting with their own interests at stake!  In order to protect her home and her people, Hathin will have to take up the mission on her own slim shoulders and brave all sorts of dangers and trials to uncover the truth.  Hathin struggles with being a responsible and caring sister, often frustrated by her sister’s impossible behavior. It’s an unusual, but well written story of island adventure and brilliant characters.


Claws by Mike and Rachel Grinti (Chicken House, 2012)

An urban fantasy story set in an alternate history world where the modern world is plague by the things and creatures of magic.  Normal humans with everyday jobs and technology live side by side with magical, and often dangerous beings–the kind that like to snack on kids and cast curses.  Emma’s sister is missing, and her parents have exhausted all their resources trying to find her, or clues to her whereabouts.  Emma doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her sister again, until she meets a fast talking cat with a crazy plan to find and rescue her sister.  All Emma has to do is one little favor . . .  Wild magic and adventure send this girl and cat on a mission  to bring home a long lost sister in this fantasy debut!


Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede (Scholastic, 2009)

Eff’s never quite been able to escape the idea that since she was born a thirteenth child, she was born unlucky–with magic that will always  create trouble and problems.  Her twin brother is the seventh son of a seventh son–the lucky golden boy of the family who will go on to magical greatness.  Can Eff find her way out of her brother’s shadow and figure out who she is in truth.  A story set in an alternate history North America on the frontier where different schools of magic are part of everyday life.  First book in the Frontier Magic trilogy.


The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine (Eos, c2001)

Let’s end this ten with two sisters who are princesses.  Elder Meryl has always been the brave and bold one while younger Addie is quite and prefers needlepoint to adventure.  But all that changes when Meryl is stricken with the Gray Death and Addie must put on the mantle of the hero and strike out on a quest to find a cure before she loses her beloved sister.  She’ll battle all sorts of monsters and entire a battle of wits with a dragon before all is said and done.

So there’s my ten.  What other sisterly books can you think of?  Comments welcome!

About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on January 15, 2014, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. What a great list! The book with a sister that pops into my mind is “A Cabinet of Earths” by Anne Nesbet, where Maya has to keep her charming younger brother from being robbed of his charm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: