The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

cover image for The Sisterhood of the Traveling PantsBrasheres, Ann. (2001) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. New York, NY: 17th Street Productions

Plot Summary: 


Bridget, Tibby, Carmen, and Lena have been together since their mothers were in the same Lamaze class (check).  This summer, the one before their (?) year, will be the first one they’ve spent apart.  Bridget is attending soccer camp in Mexico, Carmen will be visiting her dad in South Carolina, Lena is being shipped off to stay with her grandparents in Greece, and Tibby is stuck at home at a minimum wage job.  As excited as everyone is (well, everyone except for Tibby), they aren’t looking forward to the time apart and promises to keep in touch just don’t seem to be enough to make up for it.  So when a pair of thrift store jeans magically fits all four girls to perfection, they decide to share the jeans and pass them around on their adventures that summer.  They may not be able to travel together – but the pants can travel between them!

Critical Evaluation:

The Traveling Pants series is the perfect example of a typical girls series, and I mean that in the best of ways.  Friendship and the trials of coming of age are the focus and the bittersweet of loss and change are matched with humor and hope.  While the girls are almost uniformly white and suburban in their upbringing, their different personalities and how they interact with each other is anything but shallow or unrealistic.

Readers’s Annotation:

Rule #1: You must never wash the Pants.  Rule # 8: You must pass the pants along to your Sisters in the order set by the Sisterhood.  Rule #10: Pants = love.  Love your pals.  Love yourself.

Author Information:

http://annbrashares.com/

http://annbrashares.wordpress.com/

http://www.facebook.com/AnnBrasharesAuthor

http://annbrashares.tumblr.com/

@AnnBrashares

Reading Level/Target Age:

5th grade/14-35

Yes, I know, that’s a rather large age range.  But as of now, the series ends with the “girls” in their 30th summer and, while I think the first few novels will appeal most to teens, this series clearly has crossover appeal.

Booktalking Ideas:

The rules for the pants are rather hilarious, but would only work for potential readers that are not turned off by the gimmick.  Another option would be to talk up the different experiences and personalities of the girls in the series.

Possible Controversy:

I once had a parent ask me if there was any sex in this book.  I was about to say no, but then remembered that there was – even though it happened practically off screen.  When she put the book down after I explained that, I was tempted to snark “but it totally screws her for, like, a whole year and she completely regrets it!”  The sisterhood is not innocent or straight and narrow enough to satisfy many overprotective parents, but neither do they stand out in a way that is likely to get the books challenged.  Unfortunately, this is in part because they no not challenge some of the more insidious narratives about teens and responsibility.  Bridget’s story, choices, and regrets are very real, but that doesn’t stop how they are portrayed in the story from contributing to the idea that teens who have sex are damaged in some way.

Reason for Choosing This Title:

I initially read this because I was curious what all the fuss was about.  I reread it for class because it had been a while and I remember enjoying it.

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