Tracy Beaker stars in four books, two TV series, a television movie and a musical so I think it’s fair to say that when she is referred to as one of Jacqueline Wilson’s most popular characters it’s probably accurate.
A feisty 10-year-old who has spent most of her life in care Tracy is eloquent, precocious and more than capable of getting her own way. I’m sure that I read the Tracy Beaker books when I was in their intended age bracket (7-11) but I stumbled across the television show again recently (it’s available on YouTube if anyone’s interested) and even as an adult I enjoyed it but I couldn’t remember what the written Tracy was like so I decided to reread the book. It turns out that the first series of the TV show is remarkably similar to the first book so kudos to the BBC for that, I do like an accurate portrayal.
The book is written as Tracy’s diary and is a relatively unbroken prose describing incidents from life at The Home, who she does and (more often) doesn’t like and her unwavering attempts to get Cam Lawson to be her foster-mother. Tracy spends a lot of time living inside her head, making up stories as to what it is that keeps her mum from coming back to look after her and fantastic explanations for why whatever just happened is NOT Tracy’s fault.
The book is a great read for children and adults; it’s funny, imaginative and easy to read yet full of characters you really like and who are easy to root for. It’s easy to see why Jacqueline Wilson is one of the UK’s most popular authors (she was made a Dame in 2008); she tells poignant tales of neglected or troubled children with a humor and warmth that make them easy to relate to. It’s a rare gift that she has and it’s certainly something to be treasured.
And it’s impossible to review a Jacqueline Wilson book without mentioning the wonderful illustrations by Nick Sharratt which bring the story to life and are so much a part of her work that even the TV series have made them a feature of the shows. The team of Wilson and Sharratt are close to unbeatable in children’s literature (the only other team I would put above them are Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake but it’s a very close thing!)