Fall under the spell of this contemporary fairy tale that's perfect for fans of Emily Winfield Martin's Snow & Rose and the Chronicles of Narnia series.
Alice thought it was unusual to see a dragonfly in the middle of winter. But she followed it until she fell down-down-down, and woke up in a world unlike any other.
Welcome to Sisterland, a fantastical world where it is always summer. The most enchanting magic of all, though, is Alice's new friend Marissa. But as the girls explore the strange land, they learn Sisterland's endless summer comes at a price. Back on Earth, their homes are freezing over. To save their families, Alice and Marissa must outwit the powerful Queen Lili. But the deeper they go into Sisterland, the less Alice and Marissa remember about their homes, their lives before, and what they are fighting for.
This is a wondrous tale about heroism, loyalty, and friendship from one of the most celebrated Finnish children's authors, Salla Simukka.
An Excerpt fromSisterland
Alice was just coming home from school when she saw a dragonfly flapping its shiny rainbow wings on a snowbank.
That’s strange, thought Alice. A dragonfly? At this time of year, with all this snow? How on earth could it have survived since summer, and what will happen to it out here in the cold?
The winter had actually been quite strange. The first snowfall came in late September. That wasn’t so peculiar--sometimes the first snow came early--but this time, it stuck, and that was odd. The first flakes left only a thin white dusting over the frozen earth, but then came more. And more. And more.
At first, people were excited. No dreary, slushy October, no depressing, dark November! The snow blew a layer of whipped cream over the entire landscape. Everything became white and beautiful, glittery and sparkly, shining and shimmery. The drifts grew and grew. First the children built snowmen and then snow families, and eventually entire tribes of snow creatures. The snow forts grew into castles and cities with streets and walls and moats. Some built labyrinths in the snow where you really could get lost and never again see anything but white walls of ice.
The schoolyard became an enormous winter adventure park with caves and tunnels and ice slides and snow mountains. Although the newspapers and television spoke with concern about the amount of snow and the cold, the truth was that everyone loved this extraordinary winter. In the beginning.
Alice was also excited. With her whole eleven-year-old heart, she longed for two things, and one of them was adventure. So this snowy-white world of wonder seemed like an answer to her wish. If this much snow could fall, then anything could happen!
However, by Christmas there was already so much snow that it was interfering with normal life. You could barely see out the first-floor windows of the apartment buildings. Homeowners had to work for hours every day to prevent their homes from disappearing. Keeping the roads open became so difficult in some outlying areas and smaller towns that some people had to be evacuated from isolated homes to places where there was less snow.
Some refused to leave. They began living as in days of yore, dusting off their skis and trekking miles and miles to the nearest store. The heavy snow began to break tree branches. Some trees fell from the weight of the snow and cut power lines. Train traffic was canceled entirely because keeping the rails free of snow became impossible. The closer it came to the end of the year, the fewer people sighed about how lovely it would be to have a proper white Christmas for once.
The snow was not a friend anymore. It had become an enemy to be fought or at least beaten back until a truce could be made. Everything slowed down; everything took more time. Dressing in layers in the morning took time; the difficulty of travel multiplied the time it took to get to school and work; and the ever-tightening grip of the cold was like a silent terror that slowly crept from the belly to the thoughts and then into people’s dreams. Whenever you worked up the courage to go outside, all around lay a white, shining, ponderous silence.
The whole country just kept getting colder. The temperature dropped to twenty degrees below zero. What would happen if there wasn’t enough electricity to heat all the homes? People were always cold, and the cold made them more and more nasty to each other. They smiled less and felt less. When they did laugh, their laughter was harder, more erratic, and colder. It was as if people were freezing from the inside out.
Alice also felt this coldness inside sometimes, and it made her shiver. Amid all the snow and cold, she found herself wishing more and more for the other thing she wanted most in life: a best friend. Even though she had a mom, a dad, a big sister, and nice schoolmates, she’d never had a real best friend. Maybe that was why Alice had had two imaginary friends for as long as she could remember: Mirror Alice and Shadow Alice. Mirror Alice was her reflection, and Shadow Alice was her shadow. She frequently talked to her friends in her mind, even though she knew they weren’t real.
One day, Alice noticed that her shadow was gone. She couldn’t find it anywhere. Now that she knew to pay attention, she realized that everyone’s shadow had disappeared. Even though the sun shone between the storms, no one cast a shadow on the snow. Alice tried to tell her parents, but they just thought that everything was so white now that the shadows were hard to see. Alice thought that explanation was absurd, but she held her tongue.
So the winter was already strange in all sorts of ways, but a dragonfly at this time of year was the strangest of all. Alice pulled her phone out to search online for information about rare species of dragonflies that could live in the freezing cold.
Alice was good at searching for information and interested in everything around her. Sometimes she felt that adults weren’t as observant as kids or as intent on understanding things. Being eleven wasn’t easy because you were between being a child and a teenager, always either too big or too small. And everyone seemed to think that an eleven-year-old couldn’t understand life or the world. They were wrong. Or they didn’t remember what it was like to be eleven. Alice knew. It was like crawling under the rosebush where you’d always hidden as a child, but now suddenly the roses had grown thorns. Beautiful, enchanting, fragrant, and painfully prickly.
The internet didn’t have anything to say about dragonflies that lived in the winter. Alice’s fingers started to freeze, so she put her phone back in her pocket and pulled on her gloves. While she’d been staring at her phone, the dragonfly had disappeared. Of course. And she hadn’t even thought to take a picture of it.
However, now Alice noticed something else odd: She could see dog tracks in the snow. What was strange was that they started out of nowhere. It was as if the dog had dropped from the sky and then started walking through the snow. Alice followed the tracks to the small forest that began where the backyard of her apartment building ended. It was already starting to get dark. The cold nipped at her cheeks with its sharp claws.
Suddenly Alice began to have second thoughts. There were no human tracks next to the dog’s. So apparently it was loose. Although Alice wasn’t particularly scared of dogs, she always thought strays were a little unpredictable. She slowed down. Was it smart to go into a forest where there might be a strange dog without an owner? Alice bent down to take a closer look at the tracks. They were unusually big. Instantly an image appeared in her head from a nature book she’d read many times. Then Alice knew: These were no dog’s paw prints--these were wolf tracks!
A large wolf, which was somewhere out there in the shadows of the forest, waiting for her.
Alice stopped. She took a step backward. And then it happened.