The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Twisted Sister Tales: Stories of Sisterly Spite, Envy, and Struggle - February 2012

Selected and annotated by Katie Boucher

Aristophane. The Zabîme Sisters. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2010. 96p. Gr. 6-9.
This originally French graphic novel follows sisters M’Rose, Celina, and Ella on their first day of summer vacation in their home on the island of Guadeloupe. Following the sisters as they spend the day stealing, drinking, and smoking, the tale offers insight into a world of typical adolescence—riddled with the eagerness to experience the illicit and forbidden that lie beyond age-appropriateness—as well as the true and often complicated nature of young sisterhood.

Barkley, Brad. Jars of Glass. Dutton, 2008. 256p. Gr. 7-12.
In the aftermath of their mother’s institutionalization for paranoid schizophrenia, Chloe and Shana vary greatly in their ways of coping. While their father spirals deeper into alcoholism and their family falls further and further apart, Chloe desperately tries to maintain stability by taking charge of her younger brother’s care. Shana tries to distance herself from the relentless discontent and resentment her family now causes her. Both must reconcile their hopes for the future, or lack thereof, with the harsh realities of their new family.

Barraclough, Lindsey. Long Lankin. Candlewick, 2012. 464p. Gr. 7-10.
Sisters Mimi and Cora have been sent to live with their frosty Aunt Ida in her remote country home, made even unkinder and more frightening by the looming presence of a terrifying bloodthirsty creature called Long Lankin. At first only known by scratching sounds on decrepit walls and hushed whispers of frightened townsfolk, the monster that has come to stalk Mimi and Cora as prey becomes a murderous and imminent threat as it gets closer to its next meal and turns the young sisters’ lives into a waking nightmare. 

Bauman, Beth Ann. Rosie and Skate. Lamb, 2009. 217p. Gr. 7-10.
With their mother dead and their father a hopeless and incarcerated alcoholic, teenage sisters Rosie and Skate are bound by their shared familial adversity, but have little else in common. While Skate harbors resentment and anger towards their father and seeks to cut ties, Rosie still has hope and clings to the possibility of his recovery. Further complicated by the other trials and tribulations of the teenage experience, Rosie and Skate experience the harsh realities of disappointment and find that each could stand to learn from the other.

Bjorkman, Lauren. My Invented Life. Holt, 2009. 232p. Gr. 7-9.
Despite some rivalries and jealousies, sisters Roz and Eva are close until Eva starts excluding Roz more and more from her life, leaving Roz hurt and baffled by the change. After discovering a lesbian romance novel in Eva’s room, Roz is convinced the sisters’ growing distance is a result of Eva’s closeted homosexuality. Roz decides to pretend she is a lesbian herself and comes out to everyone they know, in hopes of encouraging Eva to do the same in this alternatingly comedic and genuine sisterly story.

Gardner, Lyn. Into the Woods. Fickling, 2007. 448p. Gr. 5-8.
After their mother dies and their grieving father abandons them, the Eden sisters—Storm, Aurora, and  Anything—are left to fend for themselves in this smartly crafted story bursting with traditional fairytale influence. Eldest and bravest daughter Storm must protect her sisters (and the magical pipe their ailing mother gave her) from Dr. DeWilde, a menacing man with a pack of wolves at his beckoning, in addition to staving off the other folkloric villains that lay in wait.

Gardner, Lyn. Out of the Woods. Fickling/Random House, 2010. 320p. Gr. 5-8.
Having survived their most recent escapades to protect Storm’s magical pipe and each other from a multitude of wicked characters, the Eden sisters now find themselves plagued by a new villain: a witch after Storm’s pipe and Aurora’s beating heart with plans to steal her youth and beauty. Readers will enjoy the newest chapter in the Eden sisters’ story with its fairytale references galore and, this time around, a touch of Greek mythology and even more imagination.

Griffin, Adele. All You Never Wanted. Knopf, 2012. 225p. Gr. 7-10.
When their mother marries into lavish wealth, sisters Thea and Alex give up their previously understated lives to suit the new extravagance suddenly thrust upon them. Thea embraces their newfound means as a way to rebrand herself as a popular girl, while also coveting her sister’s boyfriend; Alex quickly caves in on herself, overwhelmed by the money and her own crippling anxieties. Honest and deeply frank, the book depicts starkly contrasting interpretations of what it really means to have it all.

Hooper, Mary. Falling Grace. Bloomsbury, 2011. 320p. Gr. 8-12.
Orphaned by their mother’s death and father’s desertion, sisters Grace and Lily bounce from an orphanage to a training school for poor young women, where Grace becomes pregnant as the result of an administrator’s abuse. Placing the body of her stillborn baby into a stranger’s coffin, Grace unknowingly entwines herself in the scheming of the greedy family of the casket’s resident. The family plots to get ahold of the sisters’ inherited fortune, of which the girls are unaware, in this Victorian England set Dickensian tale.
Jaden, Denise. Never Enough. Simon Pulse, 2012. 400p. Gr. 7-10.
Woefully known as the younger and less popular sister, Loann has only the company of her best friends to distract her from the stinging jealousy and ineptness she regularly feels in the presence of her older sister Claire. Once those friendships fail her, Loann is left awkward and alone, yet still wanting all that her sister has. When it is revealed that Claire is struggling with a serious condition, Loann must put aside her insecurities and envy and become the caring and kind version of herself in order to save her sister.

Knight, Karsten. Wildefire. Simon, 2011. 393p. Gr. 9-12.
After one of her sisters kills a fellow classmate, Ash is forced to transfer to a new school to escape the aftermath. However, instead of finding anonymity, Ash learns that she, her sisters, and several of her new classmates are reincarnations of ancient and powerful gods. With new powers and physical strength giving weight to Ash and her sisters’ already existing tempers and violent problem-solving ways, readers will get to see what happens when typical teenage sister struggles are dealt with on a mythical and murderous scale.

Martinez, Jessica. The Space Between Us. Simon Pulse, 2012. 392p. Gr. 7-10.
Daughters of a strict pastor in a small Canadian town, sisters Charly and Amelia, although raised similarly, could not be more different. While Amelia relishes living with rules, Charly is increasingly rebellious and proves more untamable than her family had thought when she becomes pregnant. When their grandmother forces both of them to move for shame of Charly’s mistake, Amelia becomes resentful and bitter towards Charly, and both sisters must overcome their struggles and reestablish the close bond they once shared.

Mazer, Normal Fox. The Missing Girl. HarperTeen, 2008. 288p. Gr. 7-10.
While the five Herbert sisters are already struggling with their angry father’s unemployment and their unhealthy mother’s neglect, they are further jarred when the youngest of them, eleven-year-old Autumn, goes missing. Taken by a plotting and unnervingly creepy predator, Autumn’s captivity and struggle for release is documented through a variety of perspectives, leaving readers enraptured as they watch the pieces of this puzzle fall together from the angles of Autumn’s distraught sisters and the marauder himself.

McDonald, Megan. Cloudy With a Chance of Boys. Candlewick, 2011. 272p. Gr. 3-6.
A lighter approach to the tensions that often exist between young adolescent sisters, this story follows Alex, Stevie, and Joey as each makes a wish by throwing a good luck charm into a fire. From a first kiss to seeing elusive amphibian, the hopes of these young sisters differ greatly, but all three girls share the love and care for one another that make this story so special.

Pearce, Jackson. Fathomless. Little, 2012. 291. Gr. 7-10.
A soulless creature doomed to the sea to live with her sisters, Lo feels called to land, yet the only way to escape her watery way of life is to kill a mortal and take their soul as her own. On land, Celia, one of a set of psychic and manipulative triplet sisters, has the ability to see anyone’s past, a gift capable of helping Lo discover her own mysterious origin. Readers will find no princes or dancing fish in this dark take on Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” but rather the dangerous web that results when the worlds of these two girls collide.

Pearce, Jackson. Sisters Red. Little, 2010. 338p. Gr. 8-12.
Left with one eye and a taste for werewolf blood, older sister Scarlett has thought of nothing but revenge since her grandmother’s vicious murder and her own disfigurement at the hands (or rather paws) of the Fenris werewolf clan. Scarlett and her younger sister Rosie, who secretly wishes for a tamer life, are ruthless weapon-wielding teens who’ve devoted their young lives to protecting other innocent girls from the Fenris clan. Readers will revel in the fierceness of these sisters in this violent sequel to Little Red Riding Hood.  

Peloquin, Lili. The Innocents. Razorbill, 2012. 259p. Gr. 7-10.
Sisters Alice and Charlie were once close but are driven apart by the new circumstances their mother’s recent marriage to a wealthy and mysterious man has put them in. While Charlie chases popularity and both sisters chase their respective love interests, Alice finds herself increasingly confused and troubled by their new stepfather’s past and digs deeper into the lies and dangers that seem to simmer behind their family’s new façade.

Reeves, Dia. Slice of Cherry. Simon Pulse, 2011. 512p. Gr. 9-12.
Daughters of an infamous serial killer, Kit and Fancy find comfort in each other and their own bloody tendencies when spurned by their community for their father’s crimes. When they capture an attempted intruder and lock him in their cellar, the sisters give in to their dark impulses and torture him mercilessly. Soon after, they turn their tricks on other wrongdoers in their magical town. Fans of Lindsay’s Dexter will enjoy the sisters’ skewed morals and savage satisfaction as they are consumed by their own demons and each other.

Snow, Maya. Sisters of the Sword. HarperCollins, 2008. 275 p. Gr. 6-9.   
Hana and Kimi are noble sisters in early thirteenth century Japan. After watching their father get ruthlessly murdered by their savage uncle, who soon after turns his sights on them, the girls vow to exact revenge. Fulfilling a shared dream of becoming samurai warriors, Hana and Kimi employ a gender swap to learn the skills and courage to become samurai and complete their self-appointed mission of vengeance.

Standiford, Natalie. Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters. Scholastic, 2010. 320p. Gr.7-10.
Norrie, Jane, and Sassy, the three sisters of the wealthy and well-known Sullivan family, are being forced to confess all of their sordid and sneaky indiscretions to their matriarch grandmother Almighty lest they be cut out of her will. Unsure of which family member has so gravely offended Almighty, the sisters must all own up to their crimes, including (but certainly not limited to) salacious romances, betrayals, and legal wrongdoings in hopes of returning to Almighty’s good graces and even better fortune.

Tigelaar, Liz. Pretty Tough. Razorbill, 2007. 246 p. Gr. 7-9.
Competitive and often combative sisters Krista and Charlie are driven even further apart when Charlie is chosen by the new high school soccer coach to play on the team alongside her star-athlete sister. With their sibling rivalry now in full swing on and off the field, Krista and Charlie must find a way to coexist and mend their relationship in this honest and insightful look into the unabated jealousy and love that can make up a bond between sisters.

Warman, Jessica. Beautiful Lies. Walker, 2012. 422p. Gr. 8-12.
Sharing genes and an unusual psychic connection, Alice and Rachel are as close as twin sisters can be. So, when unpredictable Alice goes missing, her more reliable twin Rachel is certain of foul play and is desperate to convince any friend, relative, and police officer who will listen that Alice has not just run away. As the title suggests, no one is to be trusted in this twisted sister tale, and readers will be as desperate as Rachel for answers when it seems even her own twin, a living mirror of herself, is telling lies.

Wylie, Sarah. All These Lives. Ferguson/Farrar, 2012. 245p. Gr. 7-10.
What if you had nine lives that you could sacrifice in exchange for the life of someone you love? That is exactly what Dani believes she is doing as she repeatedly puts herself in danger—uncomfortably nearing suicide—in hopes of helping her twin sister Jena survive leukemia. Overwhelmed by her own version of survivor’s guilt, Dani’s harsh personality and propensity for self-harm support her unique and dangerous response to her sister’s diagnosis, as she desperately attempts to hide her true feelings of unbearable fear and helplessness.

Ziegler, Jennfer. Sass & Serendipity. Delacorte, 2011. 371p. Gr. 7-10.
Under the strain of tough financial times, sisters Gabby and Daphne clash when they are forced to move onto the property of a wealthy family with a son especially rich in the looks department. Stubborn Gabby holds fast to her rationality, unfettered by the frillings of romance, while her capricious younger sister practically drowns in them. A spunky take on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, this story follows Gabby and Daphne as each learns practical lessons in life and love, all while discovering the incalculable value of good sense.

Zink, Michelle. Prophecy of the Sisters. Little, 2009. 352p. Gr. 7-10.
Twin sisters Lia and Alice have lost their father under mysterious circumstances and assumed new roles as the “Guardian” and the “Gate” to evil spirits hoping to enter their world—most notably Samuel, a fallen angel on a mission definitely not from God. One sister is destined to welcome Samuel and his like with all of their malevolent intent into the world and one sister is destined to stop her. The question is: Which sister is the world’s protector, and which is bound to be its demise?