Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Recommended Readalikes
I guess we should call this one the Sisterhood of the Time Traveling Pants, since our episode came out a while ago. Maybe the pants just wanted to travel beyond the limits of their international visa. To be honest, the phrase “traveling pants” always makes us think of that Dr. Seuss book with the green pants that have nobody inside them. Despite being a picture book, we definitely think it falls within the realm of magical realism. And if that’s the case, we think you could reasonably conclude that the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a work of Magical Realism. How else could you explain one pair of pants magically fitting 4 different girls with different body types? It simply doesn’t obey the laws of physics, captain! Young readers looking for stories that capture a hint of the fantastical and also the themes of love, either familial or of the friend type might enjoy the following books:
- When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
Lily is used to hearing stories of Korean folktales from her grandmother but she is not used to living them. When she moves with her family to take care of her sick grandmother, she encounters a magical tiger who is only supposed to exist in fables. The tiger’s deal is simple: Lily must return what her grandmother took in exchange for granting a wish. As Lily unravels her family’s past, she learns about the power of stories and the importance of forgiveness.
- 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
Amanda and Leo have been fast friends their entire lives. It’s hard for them not to be: they’ve been celebrating their birthdays together every year since they were born on the same day. Their tenth birthday changes everything, though. Having spent the last year on the outs with each other, they prepare to celebrate their 11th birthday separately but the universe has other plans. Somehow, Leo and Amanda find themselves in a Groundhog Day scenario, living the same day over and over again. Will they be able to escape? Will they ever repair their friendship? Only through learning to forgive and working together can they figure out how to escape the time loop.
- Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
A group of six kids from diverse backgrounds find themselves forging fast friendships following weekly conversations. Put in a special classroom dubbed the ARTT Room (or, A Room To Talk room), the six use their time together to discuss issues such as racism, immigration, and family separation. In the ARTT Room, they find a safe place without adults to share their most personal fears and plan for their individual futures. Harbor Me does an incredible job portraying the importance of genuine human connection and the real challenges faced by kids.
Teens and adults seeking some of those Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants feels might try some of these titles on for size:
- Just One Day by Gayle Forman
While traveling around Europe in the summer between her senior year of high school and her first year of college, Allyson “LuLu” Healey meets meets a boy named Willem De Ruiter at a performance of the play Twelfth Night in English. Willem is Dutch, an actor and very different in personality from Allyson. They immediately feel a spark and Allyson does something out of character and spontaneously travels to Paris with him, where they spend a wild day together. The next morning Willem is gone. Allyson spends the next year reflecting on that encounter and finds that she has a lot of self-discovery and subsequent self-growth in store for her.
- Girls of July by Alex Flinn
We guess there’s something magical about a group of four girls. Not three. Not six. Four. In The Girls of July, Britta, Meredith, Kate, and Spider share a cabin in the Adirondack mountains for a month while trying not to worry about their futures. As they spend time together, they begin to connect and support each other through their struggles. The book follows each girl’s perspective as they confront their past and present challenges, such as family issues, romantic relationships, and the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Fans of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants will love the writing style, which takes the four stories and intertwines them into one cohesive adventure.
- My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
The story of this intense and complex friendship between two girls begins in the 1950s in Naples, Italy. The details of the neighborhood are as richly drawn as those of the characters and they feel irrevocably tied together. Elena the character narrates My Brilliant Friend which is the first of a quintet called The Neapolitan Novels (that’s Neopolitan, not Neapolitan, ice cream fans) and is told as a flashback when an adult Elena receives a phone call letting her know that her childhood friend Lila has disappeared. The flashback takes us back to when Elena and Lila are in elementary school. Their neighborhood was poor and plagued by violence. Education, especially for girls, was not guaranteed past a certain point but Lila is gifted and determined. Elena both admires and is intimidated by Lila. Eventually their friendship fades and their lives go in different directions.
This blog is created by Hannah and Ella in conjunction with the These Books Made Me podcast, a Prince George’s County Memorial Library System production. Check out the corresponding episode on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you normally listen to podcasts.