R E C C O M E N D A T I O N – B O O K
As someone who loves reading children’s books, I was instantly drawn to the uniqueness of Jacqueline Wilson’s works. Jacqueline Wilson is popular for her unconventional books targeted toward a young audience, addressing difficult issues such as mental illness and abuse which has, unsurprisingly, raised controversy around her books.
Here are five of my favourite Jacqueline Wilson books that I think readers of any age will enjoy.
The Illustrated Mum
One of her more mature and most popular books, The Illustrated Mum, revolves around the story of a girl named Dolphin and her relationship with her sister Star and mother Marigold. Dolphin is a painfully lonely child who adores and idolises her alcoholic mother who suffers from manic depressive disorder. Marigold is a caring mum, but she is absent and neglectful toward her daughters and lives under the delusion that her ex-boyfriend still loves her.
This book is dark and depressing and follows Dolphin, as she attempts to defend her mother while the cruel world gradually unfolds before her.
April Showers was dumped into a dustbin minutes after she was born. From then on, her life is unpredictable and unstable as she is moved constantly from one foster care to another children’s home. The book follows a single day of her life – her birthday, the first of April, when she leaves home after an argument with her foster mother, to find out more about her past.
The book deals with the struggles faced by orphans and homeless children and how their lives are completely under the control of other people. An important aspect of this book is how it debunks the myth that blood relations are more significant than those we form throughout our lives.
Jacqueline Wilson has written about abuse in many of her books, but what makes Cookie stand out is, it portrays subtle abuse. Beauty is a young girl living with a lovely mum Dilys, and a father who completely controls their lives. While he seems caring on the outside, he constantly dictates what they should wear, criticises Beauty’s appearance and Dilys’s cooking skills, and does not let them make any of their own decisions. Beauty’s father is a rich and materialistic man, who thinks that his wife and daughter should be grateful to him for all the luxuries he gives them.
Cookie deals with such a sensitive topic with remarkable ease and shows readers that even if you have all the clothes and food you may want, they are worthless if you aren’t free to speak your mind in your own house.
One of the best depictions of death in a children’s book that doesn’t shy away from showing grief and coping after the loss of a loved one. Jade loses her best friend Vicky in a car accident, but so close were they in school that she continues to see Vicky even after her death. Jade grows distant from other people – her parents and peers, as Vicky follows her around everywhere and tries to make her feel guilty for her death.
The book portrays the tragic loss through young Jade’s eyes and shows the struggles she goes through after losing her only friend, while also dealing with all the new attention she gains from everyone else. Vicky Angel shows the importance of counselling to deal with a traumatic experience.
Jayni, with her mum and her little brother, runs away from her abusive father and adopts a new name Lola Rose and a new identity to start afresh. It all seems like a big adventure, especially with her mother being an imaginative woman who loves daydreaming about a happy life she doesn’t possess. But when they start running out of money, they need to rethink their decision of running away.
Lola Rose is a tough book to read, and Jacqueline Wilson seemed to have decided to dump all of the misfortunes of the world on this little family, as no sooner had they settled down, they struck with the news of the growth of a cancerous lump.
Most of Wilson’s books lack the traditional happy endings, which is a good message to give to young readers, showing them that life won’t always be kind to you and one needs to work to earn a happy ending. Wilson does not sugarcoat the hard truths of life, and I think it’s important for children to face them.
If you have kids or young siblings or cousins, you may wish to give Wilson’s books to them as presents. You may also read her books yourselves if you’re looking for a short and light read, with pretty illustrations in every chapter!
The writer, a Harry Potter obsessed math-nerd, is a part of TDA Editorial Team.