Who doesn’t love a good sibling story? Growing up as the oldest of three, I remember sparring often with my two younger brothers. We argued about who hogged the bathroom or didn’t let the dog out or whose turn it was to set the table, and of course, we vied for the best spot in the back seat of the car (no one wanted the squishy middle with the floor hump, and everyone wanted a window). But there were also endless games of “volcano” where we had to walk around the house without touching the floor, as well as many summer nights of spud and running bases and “statue maker.”
There’s something about the sibling relationship that lends itself well to middle grade stories, and here are some of my favorites:
One of the most well-known sibling stories is The Lemonade War series by Jacqueline Davies. Evan and Jessie compete against each other to see who can sell the most lemonade in this endearing, much-loved story with tons of truth and heart. Other issues arise too, such as Jessie’s skipping a grade which puts her in the same year as Evan, and the siblings’ different personalities.
Sisters by Raina Telgemeir is the story of awkward teenager Raina’s relationship with her baby sister Amara. The siblings’ road trip from San Francisco to Colorado makes up the framework of the book, told through flashbacks and the present. Raina and her firecracker sister provide a familiar setting of both family tension and love.
The Pet War by Allan Woodrow examines the sibling relationship between Otto, who wants a dog, and his sister Lexi, who wants a cat. Their mom, a busy nurse who wants neither, finally relents, telling them that the first one to raise enough money to purchase the pet can decide — dog or cat. And so the pet war begins.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, another endearing sibling story that has held up to the test of time, is the story of two brothers and their baby sister — their adventures, annoyances, and squabbles. We read this years ago in my mother-daughter book club and the girls loved the story of Peter, his brother Fudge, and baby sister Tootsie. In print for 40 years, the book was recently given this new cover design.
The Five Lives of our Cat Zook, by Mixed-Up Files contributor Joanne Rocklin, is the story of Oona, her brother Freddie and their cat Zook. Oona weaves tales of the cat’s past lives for her younger brother, entwined with their own family stories.
No Passengers Beyond This Point, by Gennifer Choldenko, an eerie, dreamlike novel, features siblings India, Finn, and Mouse, who take a trip to their uncle’s house in Colorado. When the plane lands in a very unusual place instead, the children are thrust into a dramatic, tense situation they must work their way out of. Each chapter is narrated by a different sibling in this clever, compelling novel.
Also check out Wendy McClure’s historical novel Wanderville. McClure wrote the book because she loved the Boxcar Children series so much as a child. Siblings Jack, Frances, and Harold jump off an orphan train then meet a boy in the woods who will change their lives forever. He takes the siblings to a place he says “all children in need of freedom are accepted.”
And of course, no list of sibling stories on the Mixed-Up Files blog would be complete without From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg, the book that inspired our blog’s name. Siblings Claudia and Jamie run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and become involved in an intriguing mystery.
Please leave a comment and tell us, what’s your favorite sibling story?
Michele Weber Hurwitz’s two middle grade novels, Calli Be Gold, and The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days, both feature sibling relationships woven into the stories. Visit Michele at micheleweberhurwitz.com.