Me and My Shadow(s)

As a child, my family moved around quite a bit. My mom always framed it as an adventure. Sometimes I didn’t even consider the idea that we were not coming back to a neighborhood until we were actually driving away, and the place we were leaving became smaller and smaller through the back window. What made these transitions so much easier was that we always brought my best friends, my younger sisters. Of course there were times where we bickered and fought. But more often we were partners in our imaginary play world, sharers of secrets, and protectors of each other.

Today’s book list focuses on siblings. From a sweet sibling bond in Lola Reads to Leo to adventures and mystery in Mission Unstoppable, these titles are all available as downloadable books. The descriptions are from our library’s catalog.

Picture Books

Tea Rex by Molly Idle
Some tea parties are for grown-ups. Some are for girls. But this tea party is for a very special guest. And it is important to follow some rules, like providing comfortable chairs,
and good conversation, and yummy food. But sometimes that is not enough for special guests, especially when their manners are more Cretaceous than gracious. Introducing Tea Rex, a guest that just about any child would love to have to tea!

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
Rubina has been invited to her first birthday party, and her mother, Ami, insists that she bring her little sister along. Rubina is mortified, but she can’t convince Ami that you just don’t bring your younger sister to your friend’s party. So both girls go, and not only does Sana demand to win every game, but after the party she steals Rubina’s prized party favor, a red lollipop. What’s a fed-up big sister to do? Rukhsana Khan’s clever story and Sophie Blackall’s irresistible illustrations make for a powerful combination in this fresh and surprising picture book.

Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn
Join Lola as she learns what it means to be a big sister, in the third installment in the loveable Lola series. We all know how much Lola loves books, so it is no surprise that she can’t wait to share her love of reading with her new baby brother, Leo. Lola gets ready for little Leo’s arrival by reading books about brothers and sisters and picking out the perfect stories that she just knows her little brother will love. When the baby is finally here, Lola takes on the role of big sister—she helps her mommy and daddy around the house and tells Leo stories to cheer him up when he cries. Simple text and bright and charming illustrations celebrate family, reading, and what it means to be a big sister.

Mabel and Sam at Home by Linda Urban
This playful and endearing book celebrates imaginative play as Mable and Sam move into a new house and make it their own. They sail the high seas of their new home, tour the intriguing museum of their living room, journey through outer space to the safety of their own beds, and discover how far afield—and how close to home—imagination can take them. Funny and engaging, this celebration of moving in and settling in is both heart-warming and house-warming.

Early Chapter Books

Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows
When seven-year old Bean plays a mean trick on her sister, she finds unepected support for her antics from Ivy, the new neighbor, who is less boring than Bean first suspected.

Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder
Join Charlie and Mouse as they talk to lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. With imagination and humor, Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes paint a lively picture of brotherhood that children will relish in a beginning chapter book format; making this a perfect book for young readers graduating from picture books.

Juvenile Fiction

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures. The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will–won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget. Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.

Mission Unstoppable: the Genius Files Series, Book 1 by Dan Gutman
The most exciting road trip in history begins! In this action-packed, New York Times bestselling adventure, twelve-year-old twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald embark on a family vacation you’ll have to read to believe.With the real-kid humor that has earned Dan Gutman millions of fans around the world, and featuring weird-but-true American tourist destinations, The Genius Files is a one-of-a-kind mix of geography and fun. As Coke and Pepsi dodge nefarious villains from the Pez museum in California all the way to the Infinity Room in Wisconsin, black-and-white photographs and maps put young readers right into the action. And don’t miss the next leg of the journey in The Genius Files: Never Say Genius!Supports the Common Core State Standards

The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd
With a dash of Lemony Snicket, a dollop of the Addams Family, and a hearty dose of adventure, kaboom, the seven siblings—each born on a different day of the week—have to move into their grandpa’s bizarre old mansion in Lost Cove. No problem! For the Problim children, every problem is a gift! But rumors about their family run rampant in the small town: tales of a bitter feud, a hidden treasure, and a certain kind of magic lingering in the halls of #7 Main Street. Their neighbors, the O’Pinions, will do anything to find the secrets lurking inside the Problim household—including sending the seven children to seven different houses on seven different continents!

Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski.
Mirror, mirror, on the basement wall… Once upon a time my brother and I were normal kids. The next minute? The mirror in our basement slurped us up and magically transported us inside Snow White’s fairytale. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true. But hey-we’re heroes! We stopped Snow White from eating the poisoned apple. Hooray! Or not. If Snow White doesn’t die, she won’t get to meet her prince. And then she won’t get her happy ending. Oops. Now it’s up to us to: avoid getting poisoned, sneak into a castle, fix Snow White’s story. And then, fingers crossed, find our way home.

Gone crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia.
Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles’s half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven’t spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that’s been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

Graphic Novel

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she’s also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn’t improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn’t seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all. Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.

Oh, Sister

book coverHaving grown up in a big family, I thought I knew a thing or two about sibling rivalry. And then I read The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary Lovell. The Mitford family makes my own eclectic clan’s dramas and differences seem downright dull.

In this stunning family biography, Mary Lovell introduces the six daughters and one son of a landed aristocratic family in Edwardian England. The family generated controversy and intrigue aplenty over the years. Despite intimate bonds with each other, they had very public political disputes and wildly disparate adult lives.

Diana married Oswald Mosley, head of Britain’s Fascist party. Unity, a close friend of Adolph Hitler, shot herself in the head when England and Germany went to war. Deborah married the  Duke of Devonshire and thus filled the coveted role of Duchess of Devonshire. Jessica, a Communist and bestselling non-fiction writer, scandalized the family when she eloped with a nephew of Winston Churchill. The eldest daughter, Nancy, drew upon her family’s colorful upbringing in her bestselling novels and was good friends with writer Evelyn Waugh. Pamela, wife of the wealthy physicist Derek Jackson, led a relatively quiet and humble life.

As you’d expect, there is never a dull moment in the lives of the Mitford family. And as a result, there’s never a dull moment in the book. This biography effectively captures the intimacies and complexities of familial love, loyalty, betrayal, heartache and happiness. The book also serves as a captivating introduction to 20th century social, political, and literary history in Britain.

After reading The Sisters, my curiosity about this curious clan was still piqued. The edited collection The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters offers another  intimate portrait of their tumultuous lives.

If you’re in the mood for an intelligent, thoughtful and scintillating story about a family far weirder and wilder than your own, try The Sisters. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to call my sister.

Mindy