No 43 My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards (1952)
Sibling rivalry is a many splendoured thing. I had one friend who crept into her baby brother's bedroom every night after her parents had gone to bed and quietly opened his window as far as she could, in the hope that burglars would come and steal him in the night. Another tells me that she once covered her sister's favourite toy in an inch-thick layer of Vaseline. "I told her I'd waterproofed it for her but really it was just to stop her being able to hug him," she says 20 years later, still with disconcerting glee in her voice.
I myself merely invented the bedtime drinking game. You hold the two bottom corners of the pillow under your supine sibling's chin, trapping its head in a noose-cum-vice. You then pour water from the plastic bedside cup into the sibling's mouth. Increase rate of flow until victim either chokes to death or you become so weak with laughter that you have to desist.
Happy – if slightly perilous – times. But I would encourage you to focus on what greater depredations might have occurred against my sister's person if I had not had the terrific safety valve provided by the My Naughty Little Sister stories by Dorothy Edwards.
These are written (for readers of about six or seven, just about the time younger siblings are really starting to encroach on your citadel) from the point of view of a responsible, long-suffering but essentially kind and generous-spirited older sister (I tell you, it was like looking in a mirror) who recounts the crimes and misdemeanours of her – yes, you've guessed it – naughty but equally good-hearted little sister and her occasional accomplice Bad Harry, a child with a capacity for consuming stolen trifle that almost equals the little sister's own.
The stories' settings are quaintly endearing now. Written more than 50 years ago, they are set in a world of taffy pulling, Bonfire puddings, doctors with Gladstone bags, party frocks that must be kept too clean for fun and red ink bottles (for faking chicken pox spots). But the themes are timeless – the charms and frustrations of having a younger child whose imagination periodically runs away with her and must be explained to the neighbours (yes, she picked your flowers but only because tulips make such very good pretend cups for pretend tea when you are a pretend lady out shopping in the lane), the fascination with a being who does not yet comprehend consequences, and the love for the incorrigible little bugger that infuses all.
They are the perfect way of defusing the tension that can exist between even the best-regulated siblings from time to time. And if that doesn't work, well, there's always the drinking game.