My Sister Jodie
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2009)|
|Cover artist||Nick Sharratt|
|13 March 2008 hardback|
|Media type||Print (hardback) (Paperback)|
Pearl and Jodie are sisters. Jodie, 14, is very protective of her younger sister, Pearl. Jodie is boisterous, mischievous and dresses in a flamboyant manner. Pearl, 10, is shy and loves to read books. She also admires and looks up to Jodie. Their mother and father, Sharon and Joe, decide to move to Melchester College, where they have both been offered new jobs as a cook and caretaker, respectively. Their motivation is to give the girls an opportunity to receive an excellent education. Jodie does not want to move because her mother says she will have to retake Year 8 as her current school is not giving her a proper education. Pearl, however, is glad because she is the victim of constant bullying at her school. She views the move as an opportunity to have a fresh start at a different place.
When family moves to the college, Jodie is grumpy and says that she is only joining everyone else because she needs to look after Pearl. Once they reach their destination, Miss French, the school secretary, comes to meet them at the gate. The family seems to like her because of Miss French's friendly nature. On their first night at the school, they meet Mr Wilberforce, the Headmaster, as well as his wheelchair-using wife Mrs Wilberforce. They eat dinner in the Wilberforces' bungalow where Miss French is also an invited guest.
As it is the summer holidays, very few students reside at the school. The sisters meet tall, badger-watching Harley, with whom Pearl makes very good friends. They are also introduced to three little children: Zeph, Dan and Sakura. Out of the three, Pearl prefers Sakura and Jodie likes Dan. They also meet other members of staff, the under matron Miss Ponsonby ("Undie") and the gardener, Jed. Jodie wants to begin a relationship with Jed almost immediately, even though he is five years older than she is. Jodie likes Jed because of his 'bad boy' nature. At first, Jed does not appear to be interested in Jodie.
After a few weeks at the school, Mr Wilberforce, the headteacher, notices how good Jodie is with the Year 3 children. She is asked to tell the bedtime story for all the children when term starts. Jodie happily agrees.
When Pearl turns eleven, she receives several lovely presents. When Pearl wakes up, she finds Jodie has made her a card and a bracelet. Mrs Wilberforce gives Pearl a manuscript book and tells her that she has to write her own story in it. Harley gifts her with a torch, and they go out to badger watch together every night. One night, much to Pearl's pleasure, they even hold hands. When Pearl comes home, Jodie demands to know what's going on because she gets the wrong idea and thinks that they are being romantic. Pearl tells her they have been watching badgers and did not want her to come because she was too noisy.
When term starts, Pearl makes friends with a group of girls: Harriet, Sheba, Freya and Clarissa. She enjoys her lessons and for once in her life, is not bullied. Pearl also continues to do well in her schoolwork. Jodie, however, has a difficult time. The other boys and girls in her year call her a "tart" and make her life miserable. When she goes off into the woods with two boys, her reputation gets even worse, although she tells Pearl she did not do anything with them. Furthermore, Jed the gardener is being romantically pursued by some other girls in Jodie's year.
Pearl becomes increasingly concerned about her sister's behaviour. As a consequence of the fact that Jodie's classmates refer to her as a 'Ginger Minger,' Jodie dyes her hair black, but it goes wrong and comes out purple. Another unfortunate incident occurs when Jed runs over a baby badger, one of two cubs Pearl and Harley have been watching. When it dies, Jodie, Pearl and Harley are disgusted with Jed's uncaring behaviour towards the badger cub. Jodie dumps Jed for the final time. She soon sees Jed with the cleaner's daughter, Tiffany Colgate. Pearl becomes even more worried when she finds a pregnancy test in the bathroom and confronts Jodie, thinking it belongs to her which Jodie strongly denies.
At the Halloween party, Jodie dresses up and plays with the children at the Halloween party. She then takes the little boys back to their dormitory. Pearl takes the little girls to their dormitory and tells them stories about a pumpkin fairy. Jodie, however, conjures up a frightening horror story which terrifies the young boys. Many of the boys fall ill and have terrible nightmares. After a serious talk with Mr Wilberforce, Jodie is punished by having to stand in front of all the children at school and tell them that the 'sad white whispering woman' who lives in the tower is not real. Everyone laughs at her but Jodie does not seem to care. Afterwards, the job of telling the children a story is taken way from her. But Pearl is offered to tell the little ones under 7 a bedtime story. She takes the chance.
One of Jodie's classmates keeps teasing her about the 'sad white whispering woman.' On Guy Fawkes Night, Jodie climbs up to the tower and dresses up as the ghost, scaring many of the students. Jodie then realises that little Dan is very scared. She pulls the dress off and attempts to open the window and call out that it is only her. She tugs too hard and Jodie falls out of the window, breaks her neck and dies tragically.
Pearl and her parents are devastated. Newspapers claim Jodie committed suicide. They leave Melchester College to live in a flat in London, because they say that they would not be able to face Melchester College ever again. Before they move, Sharon reveals she is having a baby, meaning the pregnancy test was hers. Pearl is not keen at first but soon grows to love her new sister May, even using the book that Mrs Wilberforce gave her to write about the story of her and Jodie, so that May can read it when she is older. At the conclusion of the book, Pearl states that while she will be a good big sister to May, she'll never be as good as Jodie was to her.
- Pearl – the main character and narrator of the story. Pearl is shy and quiet, and adores her older sister. She turns 11 in the book. She makes friends with Harley and Mrs Wilberforce, who is a bookworm like Pearl. It is hinted a couple of times she may have a crush on Harley.
- Jodie – Pearl's rebellious older sister and the daughter of Sharon and Joe. She is 14 years old. Jodie's hair is naturally mousy coloured but has dyed it orange with gold streaks and later on in the book tries to dye it black but it comes out purple. She clashes with her mother a lot but her dad adores her and always sticks up for her. She was always the popular one but when she goes to Melchester college, its Pearl that's the popular one and Jodie gets bullied. She has an affair with 19-year old gardener Jed but she dumps him after he kills one of the badgers. Unfortunately for Pearl, Jodie ends up dying when she falls from the tower and breaks her neck.
- Harley – A tall friend of Pearl's and is in the same class as Jodie. Harley is 13. He boards over the Summer holidays and watches badgers, and though Jed wants to kill them Harley is against that. He gives Pearl a torch for her birthday so they can meet and watch badgers together at night. It is hinted he may have a crush on Pearl as he says that she is the prettiest girl in the whole school and at one point, the two hold hands. Harley says that while he likes Jodie 'in small doses' he likes Pearl a lot more. He and Pearl keep in touch after Jodie's death.
- Sharon – Pearl and Jodie's mother. She and Jodie have frequent clashes throughout the book. She worked at a tea-shop before moving to Melchester and is the loving but sometimes up-tight wife of Joe. She is the school cook.
- Joe – Pearl and Jodie's father. Joe adores Jodie and can never say no to her. He is the school caretaker. He is very good in woodwork and makes toys for Jodie and Pearl.
- Zeph, Dan and Sakura – Three children who board over the Summer. Sakura is a delicate, shy Japanese girl who Pearl befriends. Zeph (Real name Zephaniah) is a boy whose greatest love is food. Dan has a man from a biology kit which he carries around with him. He is described by Harley as 'Ever so bright yet seems backward.' When she leaves, Pearl promises to keep in touch with them all, and she kept her promise.
- Harriet, Sheba, Freya, and Clarissa – Pearl's friends, though Clarissa is sometimes mean about Jodie. Pearl is closer to Harriet than the rest and keep in touch after Jodie's accident. Freya always cries at the start of term.
- Mr and Mrs Wilberforce – Mrs Wilberforce's family owned the whole college and her father turned it into a school. She is in a wheelchair after slipping down the stairs in the secret tower and snapping her spine, losing the use of one arm and both her legs. Her husband runs the school under a strict balance. Pearl writes to Mrs Wilberforce when she leaves. Mr Wilberforce gives Jodie a job of putting the littler children to beds, but later in the story fires her, when he discovers that Jodie is telling the little boys stories about ghosts.
- Jed – The gardener, who looks like a pirate and Jodie fancies him. They both flirt with each other and Jodie hangs out with him a lot during the summer holidays. But he kills a badger cub deliberately which makes Jodie hate him. At the end of the book he is dating Tiffany Colgate, the daughter of the cleaner of Melchester College.
- May – Joe and Sharon's third daughter, Jodie's would have been sister and Pearl's sister too. She is born near the end of the book, a while after Pearl finds the pregnancy test in the bathroom. Pearl is distraught when Jodie falls to her death from Melchester colleges window, and promises to look after May and be a great sister to her.
- Miss French – the assistant head, who has a soft spot for Mr Wilberforce. She owns a big dog called Shep, and is obsessed with Elvis Presley. Before her death, Miss French liked Jodie as she regularly took Old Shep for long walks. Jodie's mum dislikes Miss French because she bosses people around.