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Saturday, 3 February 2018

Top 10 Favourite Jacqueline Wilson Books

I love Jacqueline Wilson so much. She's one of my all-time favourite authors due to me devouring her books as a child. I've recently been on a bit of a JW binge. I love all of her books, but if I had to pick my absolute ten favourites in no particular order, this would be it. (May contain spoilers).

Lola Rose. I love this story because it presents the case of domestic violence whilst still being entertaining and child-friendly. Jayni/Lola is a brave and kind protagonist, and manages to push through when her mother becomes diagnosed with cancer in order to take care of her younger brother. It's a compelling, well written story and deals with heavy topics in a way that's relatable to those going through the same thing.

Midnight. Violet loves Casper Dream novels, in the same way I loved JW novels as a kid. He writes about fairies and magical lands and she's really artsy and dreamy and makes her own fairies to stick on her ceiling. But this book is really about the relationship between her and her horrible, controlling brother Will. He always made me uncomfortable as a kid. JW has a lot of characters who seem nice but are really controlling and manipulative: Vicky from Vicky Angel, Rhiannon from Candyfloss, Ruby from Double Act, Beauty's dad from Cookie. Will is adopted, but that doesn't give him an excuse to be such a dick to his sister. Still, things look up when she befriends the new girl Jasmine from school, although Will tries to muck that up too. But what's lovely in all JW's books is that in the end things still manage to work out happily.

My Sister Jodie. Well. Nearly always work out happily. This is probably the darkest and saddest book. Although her books have a lot of heavy themes, I think this is the only one that struck me hard. A lot of people I knew who read it said it when it came out said it made them cry. It focuses on two sisters, Pearl and Jodie, who move when their parents get a job at a boarding school in the country. Pearl settles in and makes friends but Jodie is troubled; she stays out late, goes off with the pervy caretaker, and is bullied at school. The ending is so sad; Jodie ends up dying and the whole story is written in past tense by Pearl who is telling her new-born younger sister the tale.

Love Lessons. This book makes lots of people uncomfortable because it's about a romance between a student and a teacher. I've read all of these books many times, and in Love Lessons the romance is definitely two-way traffic. Mr Raxberry isn't a 'perve'; of course it's wrong for him to want a young girl, but they don't do anything sexual and he doesn't force her into anything; they literally just kiss a few times. Prudence falls for him because she's lived a lonely sheltered life by her awful dad and feels like no one at school understands her apart from him. There's clearly some tension going on at his home too; his wife seems to put him down a lot and his profession, even though he loves teaching Art. Neither seem totally happy in their lives so they find each other. Obviously they can't really be together and when I was younger I wished they could, but now I'm older I get that it couldn't really happen. Still, JW's books often end on a hopeful note that opens up future possibilities. I always hoped Mandy and Tanya would meet up again in Bad Girls (I even felt sad and wanted there to be a Bad Girls 2), and I'm sure Prue and Rax meet up some time in the future and maybe even get together.

Kiss. This is more a tale of unrequited young love. Sylvie has been best friends with her next door neighbour Carl for years, and always hoped they'd end up together and get married. They make up this amazing magical world together called 'Glassworld' and have a whole story book about it. But it turns out Carl's gay, which I probably didn't pick up on at the age of 11. It becomes awful because he falls for this guy who gets really mad and turns the school year against him. Sylvie also befriends this great fun girl Miranda, who is almost like Mandy's Tanya and Pearl's Jodie. I think this is a great book about friendship, young love and how hard it can be being an LGBT teen, even in this modern age.

Cookie. This is a lighter story than some of the others, although it does deal with domestic abuse but more emotional/psychological as opposed to physical like in Lola Rose. Beauty is lovely and so is her mum. They're very well off but their dad has an awful temper and is very controlling, so they end up leaving him after her birthday party goes wrong. It's named 'Cookie' because Beauty and her mum discover a great hobbie of making cookies and her mum ends up making it into a little business. The ending is VERY happy.

Candyfloss. JW's books have a lot of really awful dads, so it's refreshing in this book that Floss' dad is LOVELY. Floss is lovely too, probably one of my favourite protagonists. She's cute and sweet and imaginative and has curly hair (a bit like me I guess) and even dyes it pink at the end! Her mum, stepdad and stepbrother are moving to Australia for 6 months due to her stepdad's new job. Flossie would rather stay at home with her dad, even though his cafe business is going down the boot. I thought she could have stayed with her dad for a bit and then gone to Australia maybe in the Summer holidays, or done 3 months in England, 3 months in Oz. But all's well that ends well.

Best Friends. This is definitely one of the lightest and a lovely read from top-to-bottom. Again, it's kind of sad but not 'dark'; Alice and Gemma have been best friends since they were kids, but then Alice's family moves all the way to Scotland. Still, they manage to keep in touch and I'm sure they do stay friends. Gemma is lovely and tries hard but can lose her temper or be naughty at times - a bit like Tracy Beaker I guess, though Tracy is more cunning.

The Illustrated Mum. Another one of the darker/aimed at older readers books, although I'm sure I read all of these before I was 12. Star and Dolphin's mother, Marigold, suffers from bipolar disorder (formally known as manic depression and described as so in the book), but at the age I read it I didn't know what that was or what was wrong with her. It still stays entertaining and funny in parts. Having re-read it recently I think Dolphin's great and feisty but a bit immature at times. She should really have gone with Star and Micky and not stayed alone with an unstable mother. I could understand why Star wanted to leave after having to look after her all the time; Dol should have gone with her and Micky could have got Marigold into hospital earlier. Still, it's lovely that in the end Dol does find her dad and is in care for a bit but her foster mother is wonderfully kind. You get the sense that Marigold will get better and eventually be able to look after her kids. And her tattoos are SOOO cool. I see people with loads of tattoos all the time; maybe twenty years ago it was still a bit odd?

Girl's Collection (Girls in Love, Girls Under Pressure, Girls out Late, Girls in Tears). Ok, I cheated. This should really be top 14 JW books. But whatever. The 'Girls' series are about three best friends, Ellie Magda and Nadine, and are told from the pov of Ellie. They deal with eating disorders, boys, internet dating, staying out late; all sorts of teen stuff. My favourite was always 'Girls under pressure.' I haven't read them in years but hopefully I will re-read them!

Did you like JW books as a kid? Which were your favourites? Let me know!

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I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
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