Brightstorm written by Vashti Hardy and published by Scholastic is a part of the resurgence of high quality middle-grade (age 8-12) literature in the United Kingdom in recent years. Children, parents, teachers, all lovers of timeless stories are absolutely spoilt for choice when looking for their next great read.
It is the story of twelve-year-old twins, Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm, who are left alone when their father embarks on a great sky-ship expedition across the continents to South Polaris. He is an intelligent, brave and determined explorer who strives to make ground-breaking discoveries and push the boundaries of adventure. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When disaster strikes, Arthur and Maudie set off on an incredible journey that tests their character and strength – both inside and out.
Brightstorm has become a significant book for our family because of the relationship between Arthur and Maudie – boy/girl twins – with the character of Harriet so reminiscent of the big sister in our house. Our own twins, Tom and Lucy, both devoured Brightstorm and have found an unusual, lasting connection with the characters – much more so than with other novels they’ve read.
“Every feature of Maudie’s face mirrored Arthur’s almost perfectly, and he knew her thoughts at that moment were exactly the same as his.”
Boy/girl twins are incredibly special and they have a relationship like none other. It is a close, complex relationship but with a pure, simple love. Often compared to old, married couples, boy/girl twins will argue and tease with the power that comes from a deep understanding of your opponent but the conflict is soon resolved and the fierce sense of care and compassion shines through. Boy/girl twins journey together through life. They support, protect and build up their twin into someone stronger every day. Boy/girl twins have an intuitive understanding of each other. Their two minds sometimes seem to work together as one and communication is subtle but strong. There is power in their bond and it is almost impossible to imagine one twin without the other.
The relationship between Arthur and Maudie is one we also see in our own twins. After years of sharing and playing together, they work as a team with intuition and ease. From something as simple as tying Maudie’s hair ribbon to solving the mystery of their father’s disappearance, they are able to respond to each other’s needs and unravel clues together.
“Maudie pulled the ribbon from her hair and gave it to Arthur. He passed it under a strand of her hair and pulled it to the side. Maudie took the other end and between them made a bow. They had always tied it together from a young age. Dad said it would be a good way to help Arthur learn to be twice as skilled with one hand.”
They are in tune with each other’s thoughts in much the same was as they are able to understand the Thought Wolves later in the story. A silent, instinctive communication – the power of twins.
One of the greatest perks of having a twin is that you are never alone. There is always a playmate and confidant to turn to when life is running smoothly or there are challenges to be faced. At the beginning of the story, Arthur and Maudie are left without parents to support them but the twins always have each other. They are each other’s greatest cheerleaders, so proud and pleased for the other in success and the greatest comfort in disappointment. With an incredibly strong sense of shared family and history, they are a formidable team. One will usually have the energy for two and is always there to chivvy the other along in weaker moments and take turns being “the strong one”. There is safety in the relationship. It is ok to feel quiet, vulnerable and scared. The other always understands.
The characters of Arthur and Maudie successfully defy stereotypes of boys and girls. This is something we have always strived for in our own home. Raised together with the same experiences and expectations and being allowed to develop as individuals while strengthening their unique bond, our twins know that whatever one can do, the other can do too. There aren’t any “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys” or “boys’ activities” and “girls’ activities”, just toys and activities for everyone. We have had to challenge assumptions from family, friends and strangers along the way but the outcome is children who believe in themselves, dream big dreams and don’t limit themselves based on their gender. Similarly, Arthur and Maudie demonstrate that they are not limited by their genders. Arthur is an intelligent, sensitive, quiet and thoughtful reader. These characteristics allow him to look beyond the obvious to find the answers no one else can. Maudie is a talented engineer who uses science to find answers to important questions and strength to overcome challenging obstacles. My quiet, book-loving boy and energetic, mathematically-minded girl know they have found kindred spirits in Arthur and Maudie.
We will be forever thankful for Vashti Hardy and the Brightstorm world she has created. For our twins, this book provides a mirror of their own world with a relationship they understand so well. The value and recognition of their boy/girl twin relationship is priceless as they feel empowered in who they are. We can’t wait for the publication of Darkwhispers in February 2020 and the next Brightstorm adventure!
Other boy/girl twin stories:
- Topsy and Tim series by Jean and Gareth Adamson
- The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer
- The Person Controller by David Baddiel
- The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott
- The Templeton Twins books by Ellis Weiner
- The Tapper Twins books by Geoff Rodkey
- Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.