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Joan Larkin is the oldest sister of Maryellen Larkin.

Facts and Personality

Joan is seventeen at the start of the series and finishing her last year of high school, "nearly all grown up." She is also very bossy and take-charge.

She finds Maryellen messy, klutzy, sloppy, and tomboyish. However, she still cares for her sister, and doesn't begrudge her attitudes. Maryellen thinks of her in part as a finicky fussbudget. She sometimes calls Maryellen with rhymes or variations to her nickname, such as "Ellie-jelly", "Ellie-deli," or "Ell-a-reenie." Joan is very cross and snappy if she is woken up too early.

She does not want to make a large fuss about her wedding or marrying Jerry; to her, a wedding is one thing and a marriage another. She does, however, initially let her mother have the wedding "her" way but finally speaking up about how she thinks her mother is going overboard and stressing herself out over it. Joan loves books as much as she loves Jerry; Kay thinks of her as a bookworm, even implying (annoyed) that she would marry on the steps of the public library. She loves various authors (such as Emily Dickinson--her favorite poet--and Louisa M. Alcott). She is a terrible cook and Carolyn remarks she would burn water, as she gets distracted by her books while cooking. She later decides--before her marriage--to attend college and study to become a teacher, rather than settling into expectations after marriage of only being a housewife.

In the Books

The One and Only

Joan is at the all family meeting with the rest of the family. Upon seeing Maryellen's grass-stained shorts, Joan inches closer to Carolyn. She wonders where Betty and Florence will sleep when they come to spend the night and teases Maryellen that they can't sleep in hammocks; when Maryellen suggests the new room arrangements, Joan initially is against it due to Maryellen's messiness, but does offer to try. At the beach, Joan sits on a towel reading and does not get in the water.

During Maryellen's paint fiasco, Joan is inside getting ready for a tennis date with Jerry. Shen comes out to find what's going on as the brownies are burning, and her opening the door knocks Maryellen over into the bushes, and red paint goes all over. Joan yells at Maryellen for getting paint all over Jerry and "ruining" everything, and causing disasters and being a "baby" who needs to grow up. She and Jerry then go out, but she is holding Jerry gingerly to keep the paint off her tennis dress.

That night, Joan fusses at Maryellen tossing around. She then lets Maryellen know that she shouldn't be so hard on herself, because not all her ideas are mistakes; her suggestion that Jerry should ask Joan to marry him led to Jerry "pinning" her, which makes her engaged to be engaged--but she doesn't want Maryellen to tell anyone else yet. She also thinks the All-Girls Room is a good idea and they should keep it permanent.

Taking Off

The Finders-Keepers Rule

The Runaway

The Sky's the Limit: My Journey with Maryellen

In Live Action

Maryellen and the Brightest Star


Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas


  1. The Finders-Keepers Rule, pg 6: Maryellen's sister Joan, who was now Mrs. Jerry Ross, was working at a food stand at the beach.
  2. By the start of Taking Off in 1955 she is already eighteen, implying a early in the year birthday.
  3. Taking Off, pg 8: "I (Kay Larkin) want to do for you everything that I missed out on, Joanie."