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People Watching: The Sisters Griffin

  • Alice Griffin, 9, and Ada Griffin, 11, at Forbes Library. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Alice Griffin, 9, and Ada Griffin, 11, at Forbes Library. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Alice Griffin, 9, and Ada Griffin, 11, at Forbes Library. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



@RebeccaMMullen
Friday, August 04, 2017

No matter what you might hear about the shrinking size of our collective national attention span or the thundering gallop of the four horsemen of the apocalypse — Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram — there will always be kids whose idea of summer fun is curling up with a stack of books.  

Take, for instance, Ada Griffin, 11, and Alice Griffin, nine, who we recently found raiding the shelves at Forbes Library in Northampton. Ada, the self-assured big sister, estimates that she reads up to seven books per month. Alice, the quieter of the two, paused thoughtfully before reporting that she reads around five. “We got bookshelves when we first moved in, and now they’re almost full,” Ada said. (They moved with their family to Leeds a couple of years ago.)

Come September, Ada and Alice will be entering the sixth and fifth grades at Williamsburg’s Anne T. Dunphy School, where they say they get a lot of practice as writers. 

Last year, Ada wrote a story, “Alpha,” about a girl raised by wolves, and her return to human society. Alice wrote a story about a friendship between a dragon and a cowboy who ultimately had to part ways. It was sad, she said. “I don’t believe in depressing books,” Ada chimed in, “but I think some sadness is good.” 

In addition to their voracious reading habits, Ada likes writing, drawing, swimming and hiking. Alice loves to sing. The sisters are big musical fans; they especially love Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.” 

Last summer, they wrote their own untitled musical about four sisters — Cat, Cecilia, Alex and Rose — who get lost in the woods and try to find their way out. These sisters face many obstacles along the way, even falling into a volcano at one point. “It’s kind of a comedy,” said Alice. 

Favorite books:

Ada (the 11-year-old): The Selection series, “The Wizard of Oz,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Penderwicks series.

Alice (the nine-year-old): The Harry Potter series, especially “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” 

What’s worth reading? 

Ada: “All types of fiction… I sort of like how anything can happen pretty much.” 

Alice: “Any books involving animals, unless they die.” 

First book you read?

Ada: “Amber Brown is Not a Crayon.”

Alice: “Cinderella.” 

Books you think are overrated?

Ada: “ ‘The View From Saturday.’ I know it won a Newbery award, but I didn’t like it…” Also: “ ‘The Bridge to Terabithia.’ I don’t mind if something sad happens in the middle — I just need the ending to be happy.” 

Dream jobs:

Ada: “Author, senator or lawyer.” (She wrote an opinion piece about gay rights for school last year.)

Alice: “Writer or vet.” 

The writing life:

Ada: “Whenever I write, my characters are always a little about me… The more I read, the more I want to write.” 

When do you like to read?

Ada: “After school, before school, at night and when I can during school… One time I had to force myself to stop when I was up until 11.” 

Favorite reading spots?

Ada: “I read in my room. I read in the living room.” 

Alice: “I read outside sometimes because it’s peaceful.” 

Favorite Harry Potter character? 

Both: “Hermione!” 

Ada: “Sometimes there’s a great female sidekick, and she’s more interesting than the main character.” 

What are you reading next? 

Ada: “The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater, “Plague in the Mirror” by Deborah Noyes, “Stray” by Elissa Sussman and “Lies We Tell Ourselves” by Robin Talley. “There was a book I wanted to get out, but it’s for 14 and older.” 

Alice: “The Porcupine of Truth” by Bill Konigsberg.

Books that have changed you in some way?

Ada: “Every book I’ve read has changed me in some way.” 

Alice: “ ‘Out of My Mind’ (a novel about a girl with cerebral palsy). I have a kid with disabilities at my school… I didn’t think about how she felt about it.”