As huge fans of Elen Caldecott’s Marsh Road Mysteries we’re looking forward to reading Spooks and Scooters, focusing on twins Flora and Sylvie. To celebrate the release of the book tomorrow (published by Bloomsbury Children’s) we’re very pleased to have Elen telling us about her top ten fictional sets of twins!
Elen Caldecott’s Top Ten Twins
Twins are endlessly fascinating in fiction for many reasons. At the darker end of the spectrum, they make us question whether we are as unique as we like to think: clones and copies aren’t really us, are they? Shadowy doppelgangers in tales like The Wizard of Earthsea, or The Fire Sermon explore this compelling idea. At the lighter end, twins are a glorious gift to comedy, with body-swap capers and misunderstandings multiplying. To celebrate seeing double in fiction, here are my Top Ten Twins.
Twins who were the legendary founders of Rome, raised by wolves and demi-gods in their own right, these pair featured in a collection of Myths and Legends I owned as a child and were part of my passion for all things Roman. I eventually ended up doing a degree in archaeology!
This was E Nesbit’s first published novel and it established her a powerhouse in children’s literature. Alice, Noel and their siblings seek to re-establish their family fortunes and get into all kinds of mischief along the way.
You can’t have a list of twins and leave off the Joking Gingers, can you? Always ready to fight the good fight in the best way they know how – with laughter.
This was the first Jacqueline Wilson story I read. The sense of freshness and fun stays with me. I loved reading about two girls whose lives seemed so real and relatable. I also loved that the plot centres on the girls auditioning for a role in the Twins At St Clare’s.
Pat and Isabel O’Sullivan are a wonderful pair created by Enid Blyton. Desperate to attend a posh school, they decide to do badly at the downmarket St Clare’s in order to change their parent’s mind. But eventually they grow to love it – as did I.
While we’re in a school setting, we might as well stay for the next entry. Full of terms I had no understanding of, but which felt deeply glamorous, like Home Room and Pep Rally and Valley Girl, the Sweet Valley High series was the big crush of my teen reading years. I still hope that one day I’ll grow up to be Elizabeth.
Ok. So this one is a bit of a fudge. Ben and Bernie aren’t actually twins, they just get called the twins. But I love this series so much I had to get it in here. Charlie Higson’s zombie-filled horror sequence has the children set up various styles of governments. Is democracy the best way to cope with the apocalypse? Or do you need a tyrant? This fab series asks deep questions amid carnage.
Noel Streatfeild wrote a number of ‘shoes’ books, with Ballet Shoes being the most well-known. But I like The Tennis Shoes for its quiet, thoughtful look at sibling life. The children support each other, but there’s rivalry and tension too. It’s an odder book than Ballet Shoes, but all the better for that, I think.
…if you haven’t read The Gone Series by Michael Grant, skip to number 1…
… I mean it….
… it’s a massive spoiler…
…OK. If you’re still here. Sam Temple and Caine Soren
Arch-enemies and deadly rivals for most of this thrilling series (despite uncomfortable truces when things even nastier than Caine crop up), the truth is that Sam and Caine are bound by blood. Which just goes to prove that there’s no one who can annoy you more than your own brother.
In this beautiful book, conjoined twins Grace and Tippi take the decision to start school. It’s the first of many challenges that the girls will face. Sarah presents their lives with respect, poise and some of the most beautiful writing I have encountered in children’s fiction.