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Discussion Module

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
by
Ann Brashares

Publishing Information: Delacorte Press: New York, 2001
ISBN: 0385729332 / 0385739586 (PB) / 0553494791 (Mass PB) / 0440229707 (Mass PB) / 0786239662 (LPeD) / 0606289879 (Turtle)
Pages
: 294 p.
Ages: 14 & Up

Summary:
Four best friends split up for the first time during the summer, a magical pair of pants units them through out their adventures.  

Book Talk:
1. Four girls spend their lives together, but what's going to happen when they're away from each other for the first time ever? Will they stay together as best friends or will their summer events separate them? Luckily they find a pair of jeans that fits each of them perfectly. Find out how the pants work by reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

2. Once upon a time there was a pair of jeans. Not just any ordinary pair of jeans, either, but a mystical pair of jeans that, surprisingly, fits each of the four best friends perfectly -- Lena, Tibby, Bridget, and Carmen. Sad that this is the first summer the girls will be apart, they form a Sisterhood in which each one takes a vow to share the jeans and pass them along to the next in line. They are required to wear them with reverence and write to the others about their experiences in the jeans, no matter how much fun they are having. Prepared by Brenda Day, Library Media Specialist, Crowley Middle School, Crowley, TX

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Blue Jeans
Dating
Death
Family Issues
Friendship
Illness
Relationships
Sexuality
Stepfamilies
Teenaged Girls

Awards & Reviews:
American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, 2002
Arizona Young Readers Award, 2005
Booklist Editor's Choice (Books for Youth: Older Readers), 2001
Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 2004
Indiana Young Hoosier Award, 2004
Iowa Children's Choice Award, 2004
Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award, 2002
Missouri Gateway Readers Award, 2004
Mom's Choice Platinum Award (for Chapter Books), 2002
New Jersey Garden State Teen Book Award, 2004
Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Award, 2004
Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award (Oklahoma), 2004
Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award, 2004
Texas TAYSHAS High School Reading List, 2003
Washington Evergreen Young Adult Book Award, 2004
Young Adult Library Services Association Best Books for Young Adults, 2002

Booklist, August 1, 2001

Kirkus Reviews , August 1, 2001 (Starred Review)

First novelist Brashares successfully creates four distinct characters, each with her own story line, and ties them together with a creative device: a pair of pants purchased in a thrift shop. As four lifelong friends prepare to split up for the summer, they discover that the second-hand jeans look good on all of them, despite their different physiques. They promise to rotate the jeans among them and, upon their reunion at summer's end, record their favorite adventures on the pant legs. These magical pants serve as a substitute friend for each girl as she is tested that summer, from Carmen, who goes to visit her father only to find out he's engaged to a woman with two teenage kids, to Tibby, who befriends a precocious 12-year-old cancer victim. Even though they are separated for most of the summer, the friends communicate their love and understanding for one another (Tibby writes to Lena, "Don't torture yourself, Len. We love you too much," to console her friend for mistakenly accusing a cute neighbor boy of spying on her while she skinny dips in Greece). Their bonds, combined with a realistic portrayal of teen emotions (Tibby is embarrassed by the smock she has to wear to work at Wallman's, while Carmen boils with rage when the seamstress fitting her bridesmaid dress disparages her curvy figure), make for an outstanding and vivid book that will stay with readers for a long time. Readers will hope that Brashares chronicles the sisterhood for volumes to come. Ages 12-up. (Sept). Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
--Publisher's Weekly, July 12, 2001 (Starred Review)

Gr 9 Up-During their 15th summer, four girls who have been lifelong friends spend the season apart. In a summer's launch ceremony, they decide to pass along among themselves a pair of thrift shop jeans which oddly seems to fit each of them, although Carmen, Tibby, Bridget, and Lena have very different physiques. Ann Bashares' novel uses this conceit to travel among the friends' four very different geographic locations, experiences, and self-realizations, making for a complex story in which each girl's voice is distinct both in text and in actress Angela Gothals' reading. Lena spends the summer in Greece, visiting her grandparents and gaining the courage to act instead of always observing quietly; Bridget attends soccer camp in Mexico and makes a dangerous game of flirting with a college-age counselor; Carmen has planned to spend the summer with her father but discovers, upon arriving in South Carolina, that he is about to remarry a woman who has two teens of her own; Tibby stays home in Washington, DC, working at a drugstore, and unexpectedly becomes friends with a 12-year-old girl who has leukemia. Each girl pushes the emotional limits of both herself and those around her. While the traveling pants themselves seem rather artificial, these emotions and the developments they inspire in the individuals and in their relationships ring absolutely true. The recorded version of this book makes it flow more easily than its print counterpart, due to Gothals' care in individuating every character's pitch and rhythm while remaining faithful to Brashares' words and the important pauses between passages. -Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
--School Library Journal, August 2001

Fun book! I have read many YA novels that focus on changing friendships, but never one that revolves around a pair of magical pants. I thought that the comparison between pants that make all wearers look and feel good and friendship was insightful and creative. Although I did not like the overgirlification of parts of it--such as Lena falling madly in love with a guy she barely knew--the novel was mostly realistic, and I could identify with the characters. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was enjoyable and meaningful at the same time, and that's sometimes a hard thing to find in YA literature. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S. 2001, Reviewer: Deana Rutherford, Teen Reviewer
--VOYA; Voice of Youth Advocates, August 2001

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. What's the real purpose of the pants?
  2. Who you do feel has the worst summer experience? And the best?
  3. Why is Carmen so unhappy with her Dad? And should he have told her his big news before she came to visit?
  4. Did Lena get the wrong impression about Kostos? Why/Why not?
  5. Is there anything wrong with Tibby being nice to Bailey because she has cancer?
  6. Lena and her grandfather are both the silent type. Do you feel they miss out on parts of life, or do they just view the world differently and have their own experiences? Is there a better type of personality? Why/why not?
  7. What friend "grew" the most of the summer? Extension: write an alternate ending for that character.
  8. How have the girls changed since the beginning of the book? By contrast how have they remained the same?

Related Websites:
Official Site: http://www.randomhouse.com/teens/sisterhoodcentral/home.html

Movie Site: http://sisterhoodofthetravelingpants.warnerbros.com/

Read-a-Likes:
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, 2005
Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Elizabeth Craft, 2006
Girls Dinner Club by Jessie Elliot, 2005
Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson, 2005
Sarah Dessen books

Other Books by the Author:
Linus Torvalds: Software Rebel, 2001
Steve Jobs: Thinks Different, 2001
Second Summer of the Sisterhood, 2003
Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, 2005
Keep in Touch: Letters, Notes, and More from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, 2005
The Girl of Lost Things, 2006
Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood, 2007

About the Author:
Ann Brashares grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with three brothers and attended a Quaker school in the D.C. area called Sidwell Friends. She studied Philosophy at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City. Expecting to continue studying philosophy in graduate school, Ann took a year off after college to work as an editor, hoping to save money for school. Loving her job, she never went to graduate school, and instead, remained in New York City and worked as an editor for many years. Ann made the transition from editor to full-time writer with her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Q and A with author:
http://www.randomhouse.com/teens/sisterhoodcentral/author_qa.html

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