Zoo-Mate Wanted is an adorable picture book featuring two physically identically sisters with (of course) different personalities. Leah and Lilly love each other, but they just have different preferences. One day, after dealing with Leah's messes, Lilly gets fed up and moves out of their room. Leah is unfazed, and just decides she'll find a new "zoo-mate" who doesn't mind messes and is willing to paint and get creative everywhere and whenever. After interviewing and testing out a few animal friends, she realizes finding a new zoo-mate isn't as easy as it seems.
This middle-grade book follows Lucy, a short Chinese-American girl caught between two cultures. Lucy plays basketball (very well) and would choose mac and cheese over most Chinese dishes. Her older siblings seem to fit the "perfect Chinese child" stereotype more than she does. Regina, her older sister started a Chinese club in high school and speaks flawless Chinese, while her brother Kenny, although a bookworm loves and eats all Chinese food and is a Math whiz. Still Lucy perseveres with interests, eagerly anticipating her sister's move to college so she can have their room all to herself, but that is not to be.
I know that many parents and teachers prefer books that model positive sibling relationships (less backbiting, more love) and I'm all for that as well. Most of the books on this list feature sweet sister relationships, while the rest feature difficult relationships that significantly improve by the end of the story. As life can be, a few of these stories are a bit sad and feature the death of a sister, or a sister with a serious illness. But many others are adventure-filled or feature families coping with financial insecurity, the end of a marriage, and other challenges. Overall, though, I've only chosen books with a focus on the relationship between two or more sisters. Twins, big sisters, little sisters, close in age, far apart -- it's a sister party!
Serenity and her brother, Danny, have to move in with their grandparents after her mother's death. Their father is nowhere to be found and the kids have to deal with their grief while adjusting to a new lifestyle -- new school, new friends, new routines -- with their mother's parents. Their grandfather is a preacher and both grandparents are ardent churchgoers. The story is told from Serenity's point of view as she tries to make sense of life through her poetry in English class.
The Distance to Home is Jenn Bishop's debut middle-grade novel. I read and loved her most recent release, Things We Can't Say about a boy dealing with parental suicide. The Distance to Home focuses on an equally sensitive subject: the death of a sibling. This summer, Quinnen isn't playing baseball with her team -- she decided to quit after her sister, Haley died the summer before. But when her family decides to host a player from a Minor League Baseball team, Quinnen starts to bond with the a couple of the players.
In Raina Telgemeier's Sisters, Raina and her little sister's relationship is under the microscope. Despite having always prayed for a little sister, Raina realizes as soon as her sister comes home with her parents that things may not exactly have worked out as she planned. Her sister is a fussy baby and often moody toddler who likes to play by herself. Plus, Raina herself has to learn to share space and time -- and of course, she struggles in the beginning. The sisters squabble over the years until a three-week family road trip from California to Colorado changes everything.
In Summer at Meadow Wood, Vic and her little brother have been sent off to summer camp for eight weeks. Although summer at Meadow Wood seems to be a regular occurrence, Vic is convinced that the reason they've been "shipped off" this time is different. Besides things are going poorly between her parents. As a result, she's not excited to be there. Still, she tries to make it work, reconnecting with her friends in Yarrow camp while trying to be a good camp sister to a younger camper, Vera.
In Caterpillar Summer, Cat and her brother Chicken spend a lot of time together because no one knows how to calm him down like she does. Chicken hates loud noises and is obsessed with sharks. Since their father (who was Black) died, their mom (who is White) has had to work longer hours to provide for them. It doesn't help that she actually LOVES her job and is sometimes a bit too eager to leave Cat in charge of her brother.