Book Review: Wave Me Goodbye, by Jacqueline Wilson

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_wave_me_goodbye.jpgOn the Guardian book pages, among a whole range of comments about books on the evacuation of kids from London during WW2, there’s a comment : ‘I wish Jacqueline Wilson would write a novel about this, it would be brilliant’. Prophetic words, apparently!

There have been zillions of books written about the experiences – real or fictional – of wartime evacuees. Some of them have been wonderful, and have stood the test of still being read and in print – Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian is one which is frequently mentioned as being outstanding.

Wave Me Goodbye is going to take its place among the best books of this type, I think.
Jacqueline Wilson writes with humour, insight, compassion and understanding. Her characters all are credible and engaging.

When Shirley’s mum says she’s going on holiday, at first Shirley is excited – but then the reality of what kind of a holiday it will be hits home, and she is by turns reluctant, scared and angry about having to leave her mother in London. But off she goes, in her red patent leather shoes (!) with her suitcase too heavy to manage because instead of packing one book, she packed her whole library. What a heroine!

However the reality of being billeted in a country village hits home when the residents are asked to select the kids they are willing to take in. Of course there are more kids than available beds and it all gets quite dramatic as Shirley and the two remaining – and unprepossessing – boys are virtually forced on to an unwilling ( and reclusive) hostess.

I don’t want to give away the plot, so will confine myself to saying that despite an ill-advised escape (complete with gun!) all turns out well.

Many themes run through this excellent story, but what develops very strongly is Shirley’s ability to understand the perspectives of others and to be aware of how circumstances can shape us. The librarian in me wants to link this to the fact that she’s a reader … but maybe she’s just smart.

The friendships made across class, age and educational barriers are poignant and well-developed and build in the reader a wish to see how this all turns out.

It’s a story which will please many readers, and is a great addition to the books written about the Blitz and its repercussions. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Sue Esterman

Wave Me Goodbye
by Jacqueline Wilson
Published by Doubleday Children’s
ISBN 9780857535177

Book Review: Clover Moon, by Jacqueline Wilson

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_clover_moonJacqueline Wilson is admirably prolific. Penning her 100th title, Opal Plumstead, in 2014, Wilson is one of the biggest names in children’s literature in the UK and abroad. Clover Moon continues her fabulous work with vivacious female characters in historically-set fiction for children.

Clover Moon lives with her large family in the squalor of Cripps Alley, a slum in Victorian England. She’s the eldest of six children, and she spends most of her time entertaining and looking after her four half-siblings, her beloved sister Megs, and the other children who live in the alley. Clover’s own mother died in childbirth with Megs, and her father has since remarried a wicked woman named Mildred, who cares very little for Clover and beats her given any opportunity. Life in Cripps Alley is grim, yet Clover (who has been taught to read and write by the crippled doll maker, Mr. Dolly) remains forward-thinking and mostly hopeful about her future.

That is, until she loses the one person she loves most in the world, her sister Megs, to scarlet fever. With a life of servitude to Mildred or poorly-paying factory work ahead of her, Clover plans to escape Cripps Alley and runs away to a home for destitute girls, where a new realm of challenges and surprises awaits her.

Wilson does a fantastic job of truthfully exploring the grim realities of slum life in the Victorian era, without resorting to melodrama. Yet while Clover Moon explores the harsh realities and deep sadness of the time, the unwavering vibrancy of Clover herself keeps the tone up-beat and the plot moving.

At a hefty 385 pages, I would find it difficult to recommend Clover Moon as a gateway for new readers into Wilson’s work. However, veteran readers of Wilson’s fiction will no doubt devour this new tale from the bestselling author – it even features a short cameo appearance from Hetty Feather, one of Wilson’s most well-known heroines. Best of all, the ending is open and abrupt – it’s very possible we’ll be reading more about Clover Moon in the future.

Reviewed by Emma Bryson

Clover Moon
by Jacqueline Wilson
Doubleday Children’s Books
ISBN 9780857532749

Book Review: Rent a Bridesmaid, by Jacqueline Wilson

Available now from bookshops nationwide.

cv_rent_a_bridesmaidThis is an amazing book from start to end! Written by none other than Jacqueline Wilson, the author behind Hetty Feather. I have grown up reading some of Jacqueline Wilson’s book such as Little Darlings and Clean Break, but this is definitely my favourite so far.

Rent a Bridesmaid is about a young girl named Tilly, who desperately wants to be a bridesmaid. After Tilly’s best friend Matty is a bridesmaid at her aunt’s wedding, Tilly posts an advert in the window of the local shop renting herself out as a bridesmaid. The story then follows Tilly as she is a bridesmaid in all sorts of different weddings, for all sorts of different couples. But Tilly only really wants to be a bridesmaid at her Mum and Dad’s wedding, if her Mum comes back home…

I really enjoyed the suspense and drama of this story as Tilly’s story continued. Rent a Bridesmaid is a good read for anyone interested in a simple novel, or for a 8 – 10 year old girl who loves reading. I can guarantee anyone who reads this book will thoroughly enjoy it!

Reviewed by Isabelle Ralston

Rent a Bridesmaid
by Jacqueline Wilson
Published by Doubleday
ISBN 9780857532718

Book Review: Diamond, by Jacqueline Wilson

Available in bookstores now.

Fans will be thrilled to know that the story of Sapphirecv_diamond Battersea (heroine of Jacqueline Wilson’s popular Hetty Feather series) isn’t over yet. The fourth book set in the Hetty Feather world, Diamond tells the story of little Ellen-Jane Potts and her life as a circus acrobat.

Ellen-Jane was born into a poor family who longed for a strong son. As money grows scarce, her father grows desperate…until finally he sells his tiny, delicate daughter to a stranger for a bag of coins. Little does anyone know that this stranger is the cruel Beppo the clown, who works at the Tanglefield circus and is searching for people to hire for the circus. Ellen-Jane, heart-broken and terrified, is taken to the Tanglefield circus, where she is introduced to the circus as Diamond. Ellen-Jane is excellent at acrobatics, as the circus quickly learns, and so she becomes part of the show as a child acrobat.

Diamond soon adjusts to her life in the circus.  While she loves her new name and the beautiful fairy costumes she wears during shows, Diamond is deeply afraid of Beppo, who trains her and the other acrobats, teaching them new routines and punishing them for every mistake.

Many shows later, still fearful of Beppo, a new girl joins the circus. Her name is Sapphire Battersea, and she is hired as the new ringmaster… Awed by Sapphire’s bright, witty personality and bold actions, Diamond quickly befriends Sapphire, and the two share stories about their lives before the circus. Sapphire protects Diamond from the spiteful Beppo all she can, but her power is limited. When life becomes dangerous at the circus, Sapphire and Diamond have a choice to make. Could they escape the circus?  Or is Diamond doomed to flip and tumble as the Wonder Child for the rest of her days?

All Jacqueline Wilson fans will love this new novel- the Hetty Feather series is historical fiction, but isn’t too heavy for younger readers.  The old-fashioned style feels genuine; it’s an excellent portrayal of Victorian London.  The quirky characters will amaze, terrify and delight; bright, clever and full of stunning plot twists and turns, Diamond is a circus of a novel.

Reviewed by Tierney Reardon, age 14.

Diamond
by Jacqueline Wilson
Published by Doubleday
ISBN 9780857531087