Fran Wilde’s new novel Riverland tells the story of two sisters, Eleanor and Mike, who share a strong bond that sustains them as they navigate both their perilous home life, and a magical dream world that is unlocked when their father breaks a precious heirloom. We asked Fran to share some of her favorite middle grade books featuring supportive siblings, and the resulting list is one of our favorites!
Siblings fight. Sometimes it’s in jest, sometimes it’s more serious. My sister and I fought occasionally when we were both in grade school, too. There were arguments about bedroom space and unfortunate jokes that backfired. But most often, we ended up fighting *for* each other, and became, over the years, each other’s refuge and first line of defense.
So I love adventure books where siblings fight side by side, where families-of-the-heart band together to hold back (real, metaphorical, and fantastical) danger, and where siblings of all kinds have each others’ backs, no matter what! (At least, most of the time!).
Here are nine of my favorite siblings who fight for each other:
From C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe through The Last Battle, (and despite Edmund’s terrible taste in candies,) the four Pevensies, their cousin Eustace, his friend Jill, and the families they make along the way in Narnia are constantly negotiating politics of age, gender, and seniority. But when they take up arms against danger, they’re unstoppable.
Iris and Lark Maguire
In Anne Ursu’s The Lost Girl, identical twins Iris and Lark must navigate several scary propositions, including being split up for the first time in fifth grade. When things around their city begin disappearing, the Maguires, and especially Iris, have to take matters into their own hands.
Odilia and her four sisters
In Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Summer of the Mariposas, Odilia leads her sisters on an Odyssean journey through supernatural Mexico—featuring ghosts, witches, warlock, half-human barn owls, and chupacabras—in order to take a dead man back to his family. A complex story about sisterhood and maternal love.
Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern
In Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer, Three sisters band together during their summer visiting their mother, a poet who lives in Oakland California. Delphine must look after her sisters as they find themselves attending a Black Panther day camp and trying to come to terms with their distant mother, during the summer of 1968.
Min and Jun
In Yoon Ha Lee’s middle grade debut, Dragon Pearl, fox spirit Min sets off to find and rescue her brother Jun, lost on his first tour with the Space Forces somewhere in the Thousand Worlds. Min gets in all kinds of trouble, and eventually fights her way to secrets that disclose the truth about her brother and their world.
Meg, Charles Wallace, Sandy, and Dennys
Separately and together, the Murray siblings (and Calvin O’Keefe) team up in Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, then again and again through the Time Quintet series to stop the forces of darkness from taking over, and to rescue themselves and their parents.
Shelia Rae and Louise
Kevin Henkes’ illustrated mouse sisters in Sheila Rae the Brave, get lost on their way home from school, and rescue each other. A house favorite. Still.
Caleb and Bobby Gene Franklin
Two brothers get in a little over their heads when their neighbor suggests a plan to achieve their wildest dreams in Kekla Magoon’s The Season of Styx Malone. How they stick together and find their happy ending is a story of friendship and loyalty and adventure.
Ok funny story, Tiffany did in fact tie her brother to a stake in order to bait The Big Green Haid that was lurking in the river in Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men, but in the long run (and in my defense), she fought tooth and nail to save him and the rest of her family. And in the long run, her family fights to save her too. So I’m going to roll with it.
What siblings would you add to this list?
Riverland is on B&N bookshelves now.