My Sister Jodie
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|Cover artist||Nick Sharratt|
|13 March 2008 hardback|
|Media type||Print (hardback) (Paperback)|
Pearl and Jodie Wells are sisters. Jodie, 14, is boisterous, mischievous and very protective of her younger sister, Pearl. She dyes her hair, pierces her ears and dresses in an outlandish way, constantly irritating her mother. Pearl, 10, is a shy bookworm, who thinks the world of Jodie. Their mother and father, Sharon and Joe, decide to move to Melchester College, a boarding school in the countryside, where they have both been offered new jobs as a cook and caretaker, respectively. They would like to give the girls an opportunity to receive a quality education. Jodie does not want to move, because she is settled at her current school, where she is friends with the popular girls. She is even more horrified when her mother says that she will have to retake Year 8. Pearl, however, is glad because she is constantly bullied, at her school. She sees the move as an opportunity to have a fresh start, in a different place with a different life. Even though she refuses, at first, Jodie finally says that she will move, when Pearl asks her to.
When the family arrive at Melchester, they meet Miss French, the school secretary. On their first night at the school, they are invited to dinner at the residence of Mr. Wilberforce, the Headmaster, and his wheelchair-bound wife.
As it is the summer holidays, only four children, who haven't gone home for the holidays, are living in the school. The sisters meet tall, badger-watching Harley, who gets along very well with Pearl, and three little children: Zeph, a black child, Dan and Japanese-born Sakura. They, also, meet other members of the staff: the under matron, Miss Ponsonby (nicknamed "Undie") and the gardener, Jed. Jodie and Jed are attracted to each other, almost immediately, even though he is five years older than she is.
On Pearl's eleventh birthday, her mother insists that she have a small party with all the children. Among her presents are a rainbow bracelet from Jodie, a manuscript book from Mrs. Wilberforce and a torch from Harley. Mrs. Wilberforce invites her to write her own story in the notebook and Harley asks her to use the torch to sneak out and watch badgers with him, at night. Even though she is scared, at first, Pearl begins to enjoy her nightly escapades with Harley and savours the fact that she can keep a secret from Jodie. Eventually, Jodie finds out and confronts Pearl about it, thinking that Harley and her are meeting, romantically. Pearl reassures her that they are only watching badgers and that they haven't invited her, because she can't stay still or silent for more than a few minutes.
When the school reopens, Pearl makes quite a few friends in her class and enjoys her lessons. Jodie, on the other hand, does not have such an easy time. The students in her class constantly mock her and she does not take her lessons seriously. After being referred to as 'Ginger Minger' for some time, she attempts to dye her hair black, but it goes wrong and turns purple. Soon after, Jed runs over a baby badger, that Harley and Pearl have been watching, and Jodie is disgusted at his indifference. She, immediately, declares that she does not want to see him anymore. However, Pearl is worried when she discovers that someone has used a pregnancy test, in the bathroom, even though Jodie denies that it is hers.
A few weeks after the school has reopened, Mr. Wilberforce asks Jodie to tell all the little children a bed-time story, each night. Jodie, having fallen out with Jed and not fit in with her class, happily agrees.
At the school's Halloween party, Jodie and Pearl dress up and play with the younger children. At the end of the night, Jodie takes the little boys back to their dormitory, where she tells them a ghost story, while Pearl takes the little girls to their dormitory, where she tells them a story about pumpkin patch fairies. Many of the boys fall ill and have terrible nightmares. Mr. Wilberforce decides to punish Jodie, by asking her to stand in front of the whole school and tell them that ghosts are not real. She is, then, asked to stop telling the children bed-time stories, a job which Pearl is offered, instead. She reluctantly accepts, even though she feels that she is betraying Jodie. To make matters worse, all of Jodie's classmates seem to find her even more of a laughing stock.
On Guy Fawkes Night, Jodie climbs up to the tower of the gothic building, dressed as a ghost. While the window is open, she tugs at her hair too hard, falls out of the tower, causing her neck to break and die tragically.
Pearl and her parents are devastated, especially when the newspapers speculate about whether or not Jodie intended to commit suicide. They leave Melchester College and move into a block of flats, in London, where Joe is the handyman. However, before they move, Sharon reveals that she is pregnant and Pearl realises that the pregnancy test was hers. While Pearl is not very keen,when she first finds out about the baby, she soon grows to love her new sister, May. She uses the book, that Mrs. Wilberforce gave her, to write the story of her and Jodie, so that May can read it, when she is older. Pearl promises to be a good big sister to May, but says that she will never be one as good as Jodie was to her.
- Pearl – the narrator of the story, Pearl is shy and quiet and adores her older sister. She turns 11, in the book. She is good friends with Harley, whom she watches badgers with, and Mrs. Wilberforce, who lends her books, from her personal library.
- Jodie – The titular character, Jodie is Pearl's rebellious older sister. She is 14 years old. Before the book begins, she has dyed her hair orange, with gold streaks, and, in the course of the narrative, attempts to dye it black, but only succeeds in turning it purple. She is constantly being told off by her mother, but gets along with her father. At the end of the book, Jodie dies, by falling and breaking her neck.
- Harley – Despite being closer to Jodie's age and in her class, Harley is better friends with Pearl, with whom he watches badgers. He is 13 years old and very tall, measuring six feet and four inches. He stays at Melchester, during the summer holidays, because he does not want to spend them with his mother and stepfather. He continues to keep in touch with Pearl, even after she leaves Melchester, with her parents.
- Sharon – The mother of Jodie and Pearl and the wife of Joe, Sharon is hired to be the cook at Melchester College. She is constantly lecturing or telling Jodie off, for not appreciating all the things that she never had, as a child.
- Joe – The father of Jodie and Pearl and the husband of Sharon, Joe is hired to be the caretaker at Melchester College. He frequently acts as a mediator, between Jodie and Sharon, when they do not get along.
- Zeph, Dan and Sakura – Three children, who stay at Melchester, during the summer holidays, for different reasons, Dan, Sakura and Zeph turn out to be Jodie's favourites, of all the children. Sakura is a delicate, shy Japanese girl, who gets along with Pearl. Zeph is a black boy, who loves food. Dan carries a transparent man from a biology kit, whose internal organs are visible, around with him. All three of them continue to keep in touch with Pearl, even after she leaves Melchester, with her parents.
- Harriet, Sheba, Freya, and Clarissa – Friends and classmates of Pearl's, who are amazed that Pearl is friends with Harley. Clarissa, who has a cousin in Jodie's class, sometimes mocks Jodie in front of Pearl. Harriet and Pearl grow very close and continue to keep in touch, even after Pearl leaves Melchester, with her parents.
- Mr and Mrs Wilberforce – Former residents of Melchester Mansion, Mrs. Wilberforce's family turned it into a boarding school. After slipping and falling down the spiral stairs in the tower, she is confined to a wheelchair, having lost the use of one arm and both legs. She continues to stay in touch with Pearl, even after she leaves Melchester, with her parents. Mr. Wilberforce is, now, the Headmaster.
- Jed – The wild-looking school gardener, Jed is attracted to Jodie, when he first sees her. He is 18 years old. He quickly gets tired of Jodie and doesn't seem to mind, when she leaves him, because he killed a badger cub.
- May – The third daughter of Joe and Sharon and the sister of Pearl, May is born at the end of the book, after Jodie's death. Pearl says that she is not like Jodie or like Pearl, but that she is just like herself.
- Miss French – the secretary of the school, Miss French spends a lot of time with Mr. Wilberforce and it is implied that the two do not have a relationship, which is strictly professional. She owns a big dog, named Shep, and regularly encourages Jodie to take him for long walks.