By Jacqueline Wilson
I haven’t read any of the books on the BBC Big Read list for rather a long time. I really need to get a move on with it as I’ve still got well over a hundred books to go. (I’m reading the long list of 200 books, rather than the more doable 100 top books – it just wouldn’t be me if I made things easy for myself). I want to read the books on the list, I just keep getting distracted with motivational books and Nordic-Noir. So to get myself back on track I started with something nice and simple and quick to read – a children’s book.
In case you don’t know, Jacqueline Wilson is one of the UK’s most popular writers of children’s books and even spent a couple of years as Children’s Laureate. She can attract controversy because her books tackle real-life issues such as divorce, adoption and bullying.
The Story of Tracy Beaker was the novel that gained Wilson recognition. Set in a children’s home, the story is told from Tracy’s point of view.
Tracy has never known her dad. She does have a mum, but as no-one knows where she is Tracy has convinced herself that she’s a busy film star in Hollywood and will return to collect her once she’s got settled down.
Tracy is very good at convincing herself of things. She constantly gets into trouble, but believes the stories she makes up to explain her actions. She never cries, but does suffer an awful lot from hayfever which explains her watering red eyes.
Although Tracy pretends to be tough, at heart she’s a little girl wanting to be loved. Preferably by her mum, but failing that (or in the meantime) by a lovely couple who would want to foster her and give her the life she wants (i.e. lots of trips to McDonald’s).
Wilson really does have a way with words and manages to portray the characters in such a way that convinces the reader. She doesn’t dress her stories up with fairytale endings or wicked stepmothers; Tracy has never, for example, had to live in a cupboard under the stairs like another famous children’s book character had to do. Instead she keeps it real, which probably explains both why she is so popular and so controversial.
I enjoyed the story and easily read it over a couple of evenings. It made a good first book to get me back to reading from the list. Who knows, maybe I’ll tackle Moby Dick next.
Or maybe not.