Mabel and Violet were as different as two sisters could be.
They didn’t look alike. They didn’t think alike. They didn’t play alike. They didn’t act alike.
Sometimes they didn’t even like each other.
One day at the end of the summer, a package arrived. It was addressed to both Mabel and Violet. Spot art: Mysterious Package.
The package was wrapped in shiny white paper and sealed with packing tape. It was square and heavy. Mabel didn’t recognize the return address.
She brought it inside.
Violet jumped up and down with excitement. “What is it? Who sent it?”
“I don’t have X-ray vision,” Mabel said a little crossly. “Calm down, Violet.”
But she also wondered who had sent it and why. It wasn’t anyone’s birthday. It wasn’t even a holiday. Was it something they needed for school?
She opened the package.
It was an old-fashioned fairy-tale book. On the inside of the cover was an inscription in glittery silver ink. It said: “To my dear nieces, Mabel and Violet.”
It was signed, “Uncle Vartan.”
Mabel and Violet received cards and birthday presents from Uncle Vartan every year. But they had never met him in person. Mabel imagined him as a thin old man with a long white beard who drank tea and kept cats.
Mabel examined the book. It had thick creamy pages, fancy lettering, and pictures you could practically walk into. It even had its own bookmark in deep crimson velvet. It was the most beautiful book that Mabel had ever seen.
“My turn!” Violet cried. “Let me see it!”
Mabel looked at Violet. She had jam on her face. She had jam on her hands. She even had jam in her hair.
There was no way that Mabel was going to share this book with her.
Even though it was Violet’s book, too.
Mabel took the book into her room.
Violet followed her. “Can I have the book now?” she asked.
“Not if you’re going to ruin it.”
“I won’t.” Violet reached for it with a sticky hand. “I’ll take good care of it.”
“The way you took care of my doll?” Mabel demanded.
Violet had given the doll a spiked haircut. She had colored its lips bright green for spring. She had written on the doll’s arm and said it was a tattoo.
“I’ll be very, very, very careful when I read the book,” Violet said. “I promise!”
“Oh yeah?” Mabel said. Violet made promises all the time. She broke them whenever she felt like it.
“I’ll even clean my hands first.” Violet wiped her hands on the sides of her T-shirt, then rubbed at the dirt on her elbows. “See?”
“See what?” Mabel asked. She wrapped her arms around the book.
“Please, Mabel,” Violet begged.
Mabel looked at Violet. Her little sister was way too immature to appreciate a book like this. What had Uncle Vartan been thinking?
“No,” she said. “I won’t give it to you.”