Wilson, Jacqueline 1945-
WILSON, Jacqueline 1945-
PERSONAL: Born December 17, 1945, in Bath, England; daughter of Harry Albert (a civil servant) and Margaret (a local government officer; maiden name, Clibbens) Aitken; married William Millar Wilson (a police superintendent), August 28, 1965 (divorced); children: Emma Fiona. Hobbies and other interests: Browsing in bookshops, visiting art galleries, going to movies, swimming, line dancing.
ADDRESSES: Home—1B Beaufort Rd., Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey KT1 2TH, England. Agent—David Higham Associates, 5-8 Lower John Street, Golden Square, London W1R 4HA, England.
CAREER: Journalist, freelance magazine writer, and author of books and radio plays. Employed by D. C. Thomsons, Dundee, Scotland, 1963-65.
AWARDS, HONORS: Young Telegraph/Fully Booked Award, 1995, for The Bed and Breakfast Star; Smarties Prize and Sheffield Children's Book Award, both for Double Act; Whitbread shortlist, 1999, and Guardian Children's Fiction Award, 2000, both for The Illustrated Mum; Children's Book of the Year, British Book Awards, 1999; Order of the British Empire, 2002, for services to literacy in schools; W. H. Smith Book Award (children's genre), 2003, for Girls in Tears.
Ricky's Birthday, illustrated by Margaret Belsky, Macmillan (London, England), 1973.
Nobody's Perfect, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1982.
The Other Side, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1984.
The School Trip, illustrated by Sally Holmes, Hamilton (London, England), 1984.
The Killer Tadpole, illustrated by Rebecca Campbell-Grey, Hamilton (London, England), 1984.
How to Survive Summer Camp, illustrated by Bob Dewar, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1985.
Amber, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1986.
The Monster in the Cupboard, illustrated by Kate Rogers, Blackie (London, England), 1986.
Glubbslyme, illustrated by Jane Cope, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1987.
The Power of the Shade, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1987.
This Girl, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1988.
The Party in the Lift, Blackie (London, England), 1989.
The Left-Outs, Blackie (London, England), 1989.
Falling Apart, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1989.
Is There Anybody There? (includes Spirit Raising and Crystal Gazing), Armada (London, England), 1990.
Take a Good Look, Blackie (London, England), 1990.
The Dream Palace, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1991.
The Story of Tracy Beaker, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1991, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2001.
The Werepuppy, illustrated by Janet Robertson, Blackie (London, England), 1991.
Video Rose, illustrated by Janet Robertson, Blackie (London, England), 1992.
The Suitcase Kid, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1992, illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1997.
Mark Spark, illustrated by Bethan Matthews, Hamilton (London, England), 1992.
Mark Spark in the Dark, illustrated by Bethan Matthews, Hamilton (London, England), 1993.
Deep Blue, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1993.
The Mum-Minder, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1993.
The Werepuppy on Holiday, illustrated by Janet Robertson, Blackie (London, England), 1994.
The Bed and Breakfast Star, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1994, published as Elsa, Star of the Shelter!, Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1996.
Twin Trouble, illustrated by Philipe Dupasquier, Methuen (London, England), 1994.
The Dinosaur's Packed Lunch, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1995.
Cliffhanger, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1995.
Jimmy Jelly, illustrated by Lucy Keijser, Piccadilly (London, England), 1995.
Love from Katy, illustrated by Conny Jude, Ginn (Aylesbury, England), 1995.
Sophie's Secret Diary, illustrated by Natacha Ledwidge, Ginn (Aylesbury, England), 1995.
Double Act, illustrated by Nick Sharratt and Sue Heap, Doubleday (London, England), 1995, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1998.
Beauty and the Beast, illustrated by Peter Kavanagh, A & C Black (London, England), 1996.
Mr. Cool, illustrated by Stephen Lewis, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 1996.
Bad Girls, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1996, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2001.
Connie and the Water Babies, illustrated by Georgien Overwater, Methuen (London, England), 1996.
The Monster Story-Teller, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1997.
The Lottie Project, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1997, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1999.
The Wooden Horse, illustrated by Jan Nesbitt, Ginn (Aylesbury, England), 1998.
Rapunzel, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
Buried Alive!, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1998.
Monster Eyeballs, Heinemann (London, England), 1999.
The Illustrated Mum, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1999.
Lizzy Zipmouth, Young Corgi (London, England), 2000.
Vicky Angel, Doubleday (London, England), 2000, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2001.
The Dare Game, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 2000.
My Brother Bernadette, illustrated by David Roberts, Heinemann (London, England), 2001, Crabtree (New York, NY), 2003.
The Cat Mummy, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 2001.
Dustbin Baby, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 2001.
Sleepovers, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 2001.
Secrets, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 2002.
The Worry Web Site, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 2002, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2003.
Lola Rose, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 2003.
Midnight, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 2003.
Girls in Love, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1997, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2002.
Girls under Pressure, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1998, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2002.
Girls out Late, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 1999, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2002.
Girls in Tears, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Doubleday (London, England), 2002, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2003.
"STEVIE DAY" SERIES
Supersleuth, Armada (London, England), 1987.
Lonelyhearts, Armada (London, England), 1987.
Rat Race, Armada (London, England), 1988.
Vampire, Armada (London, England), 1988.
Teddy Goes Swimming, Longman (Harlow, England), 1994.
Teddy at the Fair, Longman (Harlow, England), 1994.
Teddy in the Garden, Longman (Harlow, England), 1994.
Teddy Likes the Little One, Longman (Harlow, England), 1994.
Teddy Plays Hide and Seek, Longman (Harlow, England), 1994.
Come Back, Teddy!, Longman (Harlow, England), 1994.
Freddy's Teddy, Longman (Harlow, England), 1994.
SUSPENSE NOVELS; FOR ADULTS
Hide and Seek, Macmillan (London, England), 1972, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1973.
Truth or Dare, Macmillan (London, England), 1973, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1974.
Snap, Macmillan (London, England), 1974.
Let's Pretend, Macmillan (London, England), 1976.
Making Hate, Macmillan (London, England), 1977, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1978.
Author of radio plays Are You Listening, It's Disgusting at Your Age, and Ask a Silly Question, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC; London, England), 1982-84; and contributor to Winter's Crimes, edited by Virginia Whitaker, Macmillan (London, England), 1973. Wilson's books have been translated into twenty-three languages.
ADAPTATIONS: Double Act was adapted for stage; The Story of Tracy Beaker has been adapted as a miniseries by BBC-1; three other titles have been adapted for television; The Story of Tracy Beaker, The Bed and Breakfast Star, and The Dare Game were all adapted for radio.
SIDELIGHTS: Jacqueline Wilson is considered one of England's best-known writers for young readers. "Her books have sold two million copies, been translated into eleven languages, and she receives over 200 letters from readers a week (replying to them all)," wrote Anne Karpf in an introduction of Wilson in London's Guardian. In 2003, she ranked fourth in the Treasure Islands Favourite Children's Author poll, and the BBC's "The Big Read" poll ranked her novel Double Act tenth favorite out of one hundred—the only novel in the top ten written by a contemporary writer. Her books Girls in Love, The Story of Tracy Beaker, and Vicky Angel were also among the top one hundred. Sue Blackhall of the Evening Standard proclaimed, "Jacqueline Wilson is the latest phenomenon in the world of storytelling."
According to Mary Leland of the Irish Times, Wilson's books feature "fierce funny girls who tell silly jokes and muck around and do wicked things," as Wilson herself described these heroines in Books for Keeps. Linda Newbery, reviewing Wilson's The Dream Palace in School Librarian, summarized the author's typical plot line as a story of "an ordinary young girl landing in a desperate situation and finding new resilience as a result." Many of the girls come from dysfunctional backgrounds, and all struggle with the reality of their world, trying to make the best of what they are given. Often told with humor as well as pain, Wilson's award-winning books include Nobody's Perfect, The Other Side, The Story of Tracy Beaker, The Suitcase Kid, Bad Girls, and Double Act. Though many of her early titles are available in the United States only as imports in British editions, she is increasingly gaining recognition on both sides of the Atlantic.
"I wrote my first novel when I was nine years old," Wilson once commented. Written in a school exercise book, this early work told the story of the Maggot family and their unruly offspring. An only child herself, Wilson happily gave the Maggots a slew of offspring. She had a richly imaginative childhood with fantasy friends, beasts lurking under the stairs, a love of magic, and a horror of joining in at school games. In an interview with the Scotsman, she explained, "I knew all I ever wanted to do was write and wrote throughout my schooldays." She was, as she noted in Books for Keeps, "a sad, shy, weedy little kid." Such an upbringing also led to an early love for books. Wilson not only read voraciously, but also continued writing throughout her school years. Though she loved to read, her family did not own a lot of books. She told London Sunday Times reporter Louise Johncox, "There was a bookcase but we didn't have loads of books. Money was tight, but Mum always made sure I had a new book every birthday, Christmas, and summer holiday. . . . When I was ten, Mum asked if I could join the adult library because I'd run out of books to read."
Wilson responded to an advertisement looking for first a typist, then a writer, when she was seventeen years old. "By the time I was seventeen I was earning my own living by writing stories for teenage magazines," she once commented. "I was thrilled to see my stories in print (though the magazine editors cut out my finest descriptive passages and pared each character down to a sad stereotype), but it wasn't the sort of fiction I really wanted to write. I wasn't interested in the glossy fantasy world of the magazines. I wanted to write about young people and their problems, but I didn't want to pretend there were the easy solutions offered in the magazine stories."
Married at the age of nineteen to a police superintendent, Wilson turned her hand once again to the writing of novels, but now crime was her centerpiece. "I wrote five crime novels for adults," Wilson once commented, "but each one had a child as one of the major characters, and I knew I didn't really want to write about crime at all, I wanted to write about children." Her first juvenile novel was inspired by a newspaper account about adopted children trying to trace their biological parents, and in Wilson's mind this developed into the story of a young girl, Sandra, trying to track down her real father in Nobody's Perfect. Sandra's home life is a mess, and her stepfather is no substitute for the real thing, so one day Sandra sets out to find her real dad who, she knows, once wanted to be a writer just like she does now. Aided in her efforts by a younger teenage boy, Michael, whom she encounters in the British Museum, Sandra succeeds in finding her birth father, only to be disappointed. But she is not disappointed in her newfound friend. Zena Sutherland of the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books noted that in this sensitively written story, "the characterization, plot, and pace all have impact," while the "treatment of relationships" is both "realistic and perceptive." A Junior Bookshelf commentator also praised this first juvenile novel, concluding that with the help of Michael, the book was "a good and worthwhile read which ends in a realistic but satisfying way." Lucinda Fox in School Librarian called Nobody's Perfect a "perceptive story which will appeal to teenagers identifying themselves with Sandra and some of her problems."
Apparent in Wilson's first title were several elements that would recur throughout her novels for young readers: the female heroine; the outsider or quirky character; and the love of setting books partially or in whole in museums and galleries. Her next title, The Other Side, is the story of young Alison who thinks—as Wilson herself did as a girl—that if she stares at the ceiling hard enough, she will be able to levitate. In fact, Alison learns to fly around her bedroom and out of the window to navigate her neighborhood. Or is it all a dream induced by the difficulties Alison is having in her waking life with her parents' divorce and her mother's breakdown? "The book's called The Other Side because Alison learns the other side of her parents' situation, and she also has occult experiences on the 'Other Side,'" Wilson once explained. David Bennett, writing in Books for Keeps, noted that Wilson has shown "convincingly" how the collapse of family relationships "leaves only victims in its wake, no winners," and concluded that it was a "moving novel."
Another broken family is featured in How to Survive Summer Camp, when Stella is sent off to camp during her mother's honeymoon with her second husband. "I wrote [that book] to comfort all the shy subversive children who find the whole idea of summer camp sheer hell," Wilson once commented, and for her protagonist, Stella, the experience is far from delightful. She is afraid of water, the food at camp is terrible, and her favorite book is ruined—perhaps by jealous girls at the camp. A kindly camp counselor manages to save the day when he discovers Stella's love for storytelling by suggesting she start a camp magazine. Margery Fisher of Growing Point called the book a "pleasing and pointed look at a girl of ten or so in difficulties with her peers," while a Junior Bookshelf reviewer dubbed it a "shrewd and well observed story."
Wilson's love of books literally led her to her next teen novel. An inveterate reader—at last count she had well over 10,000 volumes scattered about her home—Wilson enjoys a favorite outing to a nearby village which has some twenty secondhand bookstores. Once, while visiting these shops, she also noticed the hippies who lived nearby, and the hippie children wandering about the town. She wondered what it would be like to have one of those children rebel against their unconventional life, and thus was born the eponymous heroine Amber. Amber has come to resent the freedom and unstructured nature of her life with her mother and longs for clean sheets and a steady home. Rescued for a time by a childhood friend, Amber finally must find her own way in the world. Dorothy Nimmo noted in School Librarian that the "stages in Amber's journey are small, true, and moving," and concluded that this was a story "to be enjoyed and admired." Bennett, writing in Books for Keeps, called Amber a "well-written, thought-provoking read for mid-teenagers."
Magic in various forms and guises comes to the fore in several of Wilson's titles, including Glubbslyme, The Power of the Shade, and Is There Anybody There?, which involve seances and time-travel. With Glubbslyme, witchcraft becomes a theme, in a book told from the perspective of a long-lived toad who is a witch's familiar. "I've tried to make him behave like a seventeenth-century character who is utterly appalled by the noisy new inventions of the modern world," Wilson once commented. In The Power of the Shade, May starts to believe she really can make magic when her friend Selina initiates her into witchcraft. May believes in these powers, even though Selina is probably only kidding, and subsequently spends hours in London's National Gallery staring at a painting of witches.
Typical problem novels from Wilson include This Girl and The Dream Palace. The former story is, according to Books for Keeps reviewer Adrian Jackson, a "brave exploration" of how a young girl copes with "opportunity and relationships." Coral is caught between her father's unemployment malaise and her mother's coquetry, and opts out of her home when she takes a position as a nanny. Her employers have created a Victorian fantasy in their home, yet the same old problems abide under the surface, and Coral turns to a young single mother, Deb, to help her make sense of the world. Dorothy Atkinson, writing in School Librarian, considered This Girl a "fine novel for teenagers" and "also an unusual one." In The Dream Palace, insecure Lolly thinks she does not measure up to her prettier friend, Lynn, and when Lynn goes on a fine vacation, Lolly is stuck taking a summer job at a nursing home. At her own home, things are not much better with her mother and stepfather, but when Lolly meets Greg, who is a member of a group of squatters, things start to change in her life. And when she finally leaves her home with Greg, she learns new truths about the world, as well. Linda Newbery noted in School Librarian that "teenage readers will be engrossed and challenged by this unputdownable, skillfully crafted book," a sentiment that was echoed by Stephanie Nettell in Books for Keeps, who wrote that Wilson's story "shocks, entertains, moves, and instructs," calling the book "teenage reading at its most skillful."
Though Wilson's books were received fairly well, it was not until 1991 with The Story of Tracy Beaker that Wilson finally hit her extreme level of popularity. Her novels had been around for quite awhile, but Tracy Beaker's story was the one that caught the media's eye. Wilson's first novel to be told in first person from a child's standpoint, The Story of Tracy Beaker was also the first of Wilson's books to be accompanied by the illustrations of Nick Sharratt. Tracy Beaker—"gutsy, stroppy and spirited," as Wilson once described her—is an aspiring ten-year-old writer who tells the story of the children's home where she resides. "Here is the ultimate in first-person journal writing . . . flip and funny," noted Maurice Saxby in a review for Magpies. Tracy's dream is to be taken in by a family that measures up to her demanding standards, though as Saxby observed, "underneath the brashness and bravado is a desperately unhappy, self-deluding, insecure personality." Angela Redfern, writing in School Librarian, concluded that a "real bonus is that the book genuinely celebrates the act of writing—and not by preaching." In Horn Book, a critic wrote that the author "does a commendable job of providing . . . a surprisingly well rounded picture of the seemingly callous but lonely young girl," while a critic for Publishers Weekly thought Tracy's "indomitable spirit and grit leaves little doubt that she will end up on top."
Humor is at the heart of some of Wilson's prizewinning novels, including The Suitcase Kid and Double Act, and it is comedy also that in part informs such popular works as Elsa, Star of the Shelter! and Girls in Love. Yet Wilson's humorous books are not frivolous—they deal with topics ranging from divorce and homelessness to bullying and developing a positive self-image. Wilson took on the difficult subject of divorce in The Suitcase Kid, another story told in diary form by a ten-year-old protagonist, detailing the tug-of-war Andrea is going through as she shuttles back and forth between mom and dad. Added to the brew are step-siblings and a new half-sister to make Andrea's life totally confusing. Deborah Stevenson, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, maintained that the book "taps into the righteous indignation of a child torn between two households, and it does so deftly," while Valerie Bierman in Books for Your Children observed that to "portray divorce with humour and sympathy takes great skill."
In Double Act, Wilson explores the trials and tribulations of being a twin in the story of ten-year-olds Ruby and Garnet. Identical physically, Garnet is shy and somewhat wimpy while her sister Ruby is brash and rude, and the girls take turns narrating this story in which they reluctantly move from the city to the country with their father and his new girlfriend—their mother being long dead. Ann Sohn-Rethel declared the book "another winner" in a review for School Librarian, while Stevenson, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, felt the book would "intrigue youngsters who wonder what twinship would be like, and there are enough down and dirty double details here to satisfy them." Originally published as The Bed and Breakfast Star, Elsa, Star of the Shelter! deals with life in a children's shelter in a novel both "funny and brave," according to Roger Sutton in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Humorously narrated by precocious, ten-year-old Elsa, the book "is a far cry from traditional middle-grade fiction," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer who also felt the book was "eye-opening." Booklist's Lauren Peterson called Elsa, Star of the Shelter! a "bittersweet account of life in [a] . . . shelter," and concluded that though long, "the story is nicely paced and tender, and it provides loads of avenues to explore through discussion."
Taking up the situation of another young girl in Bad Girls, Wilson spins the tale of ten-year-old Mandy, the victim of incessant teasing by three girls at school, through her first-person narrative. She is hit by a bus, leaving her with a sprained arm, while fleeing from the girls, but they refuse to stop the bullying. Mandy must also deal with her over-protective mother. Her situation improves when Tanya, a foster child four years her senior, moves into the neighborhood. Through their relationship—despite getting into a bit of trouble with Tanya—"Mandy develops a strength and maturity that enables her to relate better to her mother and to brush off the barbs of the bullies," explained a Publishers Weekly reviewer, concluding, "Shaping convincing characters, dialogue and plot, Wilson proves that bad girls can make for a good story."
Adding a bit of historical fiction to her work, Wilson's Lottie Project features Charlie, or Charlotte as her strict new teacher insists on calling her, and her changing life circumstances. Though eleven-year-old Charlie is content with her life, she is not able to prevent major changes: her single mother loses her steady job, must find multiple part-time work, and starts dating a man with a five-year-old son. In the midst of these events, Charlie develops a fictional journal of a girl living in Victorian times as part of a school project, and those entries intermix with Charlie's life to add another dimension to the story. A critic for KirkusReviews noted, "Funny, incisive, and true to life, this book introduces a heroine who is easy to root for—she's a terrific combination of feisty and fragile." Kitty Flynn, writing for Horn Book, concluded that "readers will empathize with many of the situations Charlie copes with and appreciate the message that, as in life, all loose ends may not be tied up at the end, but we can take what we've learned and carry on from there."
Delving deeper into social distress with The Illustrated Mum, Wilson speaks through the first-person account of Dolphin, the eleven-year-old daughter of unstable mother Marigold. It is eventually revealed that Marigold suffers from manic depression, but Dolphin and her older sister, Star, have developed numerous coping strategies. Inevitably, Marigold is hospitalized for treatment of her condition. Though a serious story, Valerie Coghlan wrote in Books for Keeps that "Wilson's style keeps a degree of the grimness at a distance, and the love which Marigold has for her daughters and they for her is evident throughout the story."
Wilson's "Girls" series is aimed at a slightly older audience and features three girls—Ellie, Magda, and Nadine—as they struggle with the teenage years, especially with body image and self-esteem. Narrated by Ellie, who is insecure about her weight when compared to her two willowy friends, Girls in Love tells of Ellie's attempt to use a male friend to play the part of her gorgeous boyfriend—and because he lives far away, she can describe him however she likes. When he comes to visit her, however, she begins to realize that judging him by his appearance may have made her miss out on a great friendship. In Girls under Pressure, Ellie struggles with her weight, opting to stop eating and flirting with bulimia. But when she meets a girl who actually suffers from an eating disorder, she realizes that the path she is treading is a dangerous one. Ellie gets into trouble by staying out with her friends and her artistic boyfriend in Girls out Late. Girls in Tears follows Ellie as she learns that the relationships she had assumed would be there forever might not be as sturdy as she had thought. "The way these best friends deal with these issues creates an amusing, entertaining tale with which teenagers will identify," wrote Ginny Harrell for School Library Journal. School Librarian critic Pat Williams noted that Wilson "finds the right mix of humour and hard-hitting content to deliver a message without lecturing or patronising" in Girls under Pressure. In a review of Girls in Love, a contributor to Publishers Weekly found "Ellie's first-person narration possesses a Bridget Jones-like energy and compulsiveness." In a review of the first three books in the series, Kliatt contributor Paula Rohrlick wrote, "Wilson deals with the road bumps of adolescence with insight and humor."
Vicky Angel, the story of best friends Jude and Vicky, takes a tragic twist when Vicky is hit by a car and killed. In the midst of her grief, Jude revisits the site of the accident and finds, to her great surprise, Vicky's ghost. Vicky's continued presence is a comfort to her but at times interferes with the efforts of other people in Jude's life. Eventually, the friends must let go. "Wilson . . . poignantly addresses a tragic and traumatic experience," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Ilene Cooper of Booklist noted, "Wilson's wonderful way with dialogue . . . makes this more incisive than depressing." A critic for Kirkus Reviews claimed the book worked well due to "its honest characters and dialogue, its unique coverage of grief, and its ability to unite readers with Jude's healing process."
It is not a traumatic death but a traumatic birth that plagues April, the heroine of Wilson's Dustbin Baby. Born on April 1st, April was discarded in an alley behind a restaurant, to be found later and raised by a caring, if not entirely understanding, foster mother. After an argument with her foster mother about April's inherent right to own a cell phone, April wanders off to learn more about her past, trying to come to terms with the mother who rejected her the moment she was born. "This is a book that will resonate with many teenage girls and encourage them to give their mums, or caring guardians, a hug this Christmas, even if there's no Nokia under the tree," wrote Helen Brown in the Daily Telegraph.
Secrets is one of Wilson's few books to feature a girl from an economically well-off family. India, an only child whose parents do not pay her much attention (except to help her mind her weight), deals with her frustrations about life by keeping a diary, just like her hero, Anne Frank. India becomes friends with Treasure, a girl from the poor side of town who also keeps a diary; when Treasure's life begins to fall apart, India hides her friend in her attic to protect her. But though Treasure's family has its issues, they truly love her—a feeling India misses from her own parents. "Wilson's chatty style is effortless to read," praised Julia Eccleshare in the Guardian. Lisa Allardice of the DailyTelegraph wrote that Wilson "is not just an astute chronicler of contemporary childhood, but an imaginative storyteller."
Six short stories by Wilson and one short story by one of her fans, the winner of an online contest sponsored by Wilson, make up the content of The Worry Web Site. Each story features a narrator who posts his or her troubles on a Web site, and each of the stories are linked together by shared characters. In sponsoring the contest, Wilson received more than 15,000 entries, which led a Kirkus Reviews critic to comment that The Worry Web Site "shows plenty of potential for turning young readers into young writers."
Wilson, who visits schools in England regularly, tries to stay in touch with her young readers and their problems, anxieties, and sense of humor. Her appearance is not necessarily what her readers expect; according to Daphne Lockyer of the London Times, "She dresses only in black from head to toe, and wears a large ring on each of her fingers. Her hair is that of a spiky grey elf; her boots are those of a pixie." Wilson has told reporters that when in her "full jewelry," she sets off metal detectors in airports. But her eccentric dress does not detract from the realism of her books. As she noted in Books for Keeps, "I might write about girls but I want to be read by girls and boys." To that end, her female protagonists are not "girly girls so the boys don't feel funny reading about them." As she once commented, her inspiration over the years has not really changed: the desire to tell a story, to create a pretend life and universe. "When I was young, I used to keep quiet about my imaginary games to my friends because I knew they'd think I was crazy—some of them seemed to think that anyway—but now that I'm grown up and a writer, I can play pretend games all the time so long as I write them down on paper and turn them into novels."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Booklist, January 1, 1996, Lauren Peterson, review of Elsa, Star of the Shelter!, p. 836; October 15, 1997, Kay Weisman, review of The Suitcase Kid, p. 407; January 1, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Double Act, p. 799; October 1, 1999, Ilene Cooper, review of The Lottie Project, p. 360; June 1, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of The Story of Tracy Beaker, p. 1884; November 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Vicky Angel, p. 575; May 15, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Girls in Love, p. 1592; January 1, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of The Worry Web Site, p. 864.
Books for Keeps, March, 1987, David Bennett, review of The Other Side, p. 13; September, 1988, David Bennett, review of Amber, p. 12; November, 1990, Adrian Jackson, review of This Girl, p. 12; May, 1991, p. 14; January, 1992, Stephanie Nettell, review of The Dream Palace, p. 24; March, 1995, p. 12; March, 1996, p. 24; September, 1996, p. 13; September, 1999, Valerie Coghlan, review of The Illustrated Mum, p. 28.
Books for Your Children, spring, 1993, Valerie Bierman, review of The Suitcase Kid, p. 23.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 1984, Zena Sutherland, review of Nobody's Perfect, p. 158; July-August, 1986, p. 219; February, 1996, Roger Sutton, review of Elsa, Star of the Shelter!, p. 209; July-August, 1997, Deborah Stevenson, review of The Suitcase Kid, pp. 416-417; February, 1998, Deborah Stevenson, review of Double Act, p. 224; December, 1999, Deborah Stevenson, review of The Lottie Project, p. 154.
Carousel, summer, 1998, p. 31.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), December 1, 2001, Helen Brown, "Of Hormones, Hair, and Handsets," review of Dustbin Baby; March 30, 2002, Lisa Allardice, "Modern Girls Keep It Real," review of Secrets.
Evening Standard (London, England), January 4, 2002, Sue Blackhall, "Another Success Story Thanks to Children's Books," p. 19.
Growing Point, March, 1985, pp. 4390-4391; March, 1986, Margery Fisher, review of How to Survive Summer Camp, p. 4596; March, 1988, pp. 4935-4937; July, 1989, pp. 5188-5190; November, 1989, pp. 5241-5243.
Guardian (London, England), November 6, 1999, Anne Karpf, article about Jacqueline Wilson, p. 11; March 25, 2000, Julia Eccleshare, "In Dol's House," p. 9; March 28, 2001, Dina Rabinovich, "The Original Jackie," p. 9; June 22, 2002, Julia Eccleshare, "Treasure in the Attic," review of Secrets, p. 32; March 1, 2003, Julia Eccleshare, "Family Fortunes," p. 33; March 26, 2003, Maggie Brown, "Drama Queen," p. 14; February 13, 2004, John Ezard, "Granny Spice Becomes Queen of Libraries," p. 12.
Horn Book, November, 1999, Kitty Flynn, review of The Lottie Project, p. 746; September, 2001, review of The Story of Tracy Beaker, p. 598.
Independent (London, England), October 20, 2001, Hilary Macaskill, interview with Jacqueline Wilson, p. 10.
Irish Times (Dublin, Ireland), May 1, 2003, review of the stage version of Double Act, p. 31.
Junior Bookshelf, August, 1982, review of Nobody'sPerfect, p. 156; April, 1986, review of How to Survive Summer Camp, p. 83; February, 1992, pp. 24-25; December, 1992, pp. 248-249; February, 1994, pp. 37-38; April, 1994, p. 76; August, 1996, p. 152.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1997, p. 1230; January 1, 1998, p. 63; October, 1999, review of The Lottie Project, p. 1585; September 1, 2001, review of Vicky Angel, p. 1304; November 1, 2001, review of Girls in Love, p. 1556; September 15, 2003, review of The Worry Web Site, p. 1185.
Kliatt, September, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Girls in Love, Girls under Pressure, and Girls in Tears, p. 14; July, 2003, Paula Rohrlick, review of Girls under Pressure and Girls out Late, p. 28.
Magpies, November, 1991, Maurice Saxby, review of The Story of Tracy Beaker, pp. 29-30; March, 1993, pp. 29-30.
Observer (London, England), March 2, 2003, Kate Kellaway, "Dear Ms. Comfort," p. 19.
Publishers Weekly, December 18, 1995, review of Elsa,Star of the Shelter!, p. 55; January 12, 1998, review of Double Act, p. 60; November 29, 1999, review of The Lottie Project, p. 72; January 8, 2001, review of Bad Girls, p. 68; July 23, 2001, review of The Story of Tracy Beaker, p. 77; August 13, 2001, review of Vicky Angel, p. 312; December 3, 2001, review of Girls in Love, p. 61; July 1, 2002, "The British Invasion," p. 26; April 21, 2003, review of Vicky Angel, p. 65; April 28, 2003, review of Girls under Pressure, p. 73; June 9, 2003, "And Now, Back to Our Story," p. 54; July 7, 2003, review of Girls out Late, p. 74; December 1, 2003, review of The Worry Web Site, p. 56.
School Librarian, September, 1982, Lucinda Fox, review of Nobody's Perfect, p. 256; September, 1986, Dorothy Nimmo, review of Amber, p. 276; February, 1989, Dorothy Atkinson, review of This Girl, p. 32; May, 1991, Angela Redfern, review of The Story of Tracy Beaker, p. 62; May, 1992, Linda Newbery, review of The Dream Palace, p. 74; May, 1994, pp. 63, 74-75; August, 1995, Ann Sohn-Rethel, review of Double Act, p. 111; November, 1997, p. 216; spring, 1999, Pat Williams, review of Girls under Pressure, p. 49.
School Library Journal, February, 1996, Jane Gardner Connor, review of Elsa, Star of the Shelter!, p. 104; September, 1997, Kathy East, review of The Suitcase Kid, p. 227; March, 1998, Miriam Lang Budin, review of Double Act, p. 226; June, 2000, Ginny Harrell, review of Girls under Pressure, p. 86; March, 2001, Marilyn Ackerman, review of Bad Girls, p. 258; July, 2001, B. Allison Gray, review of The Story of Tracy Beaker, p. 116; October, 2001, Marlyn K. Roberts, review of Vicky Angel, p. 175; January, 2002, Susan Riley, review of Girls in Love, p. 141; December, 2002, Susan Riley, review of Girls under Pressure, p. 151; July, 2003, Michele Shaw, review of Girls in Tears, p. 135; December, 2003, Rebecca Sheridan, review of The Worry Web Site, p. 162.
Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), November 30, 2002, "Bibliofile," p. 7; December 4, 2002, Leila Farrah, "My School Days," interview with Wilson, p. 14.
Sunday Times (London, England), March 3, 2002, Nick Rennison, review of Secrets, p. 44; November 2, 2003, Louise Johncox, interview with Jacqueline Wilson, p. 3.
Time International, March 12, 2001, "Watch Out, Harry Potter: Childhood Can Be Hard and Parents Weird, but Jacqueline Wilson's Best-Sellers Don't Need Fantasy," p. 57.
Times (London, England), February 23, 2002, interview with Jacqueline Wilson, p. 3; February 24, 2002, Catherine O'Brien, "Nice Smile," p. 8; March 29, 2003, Daphne Lockyer, "Are You Sitting Uncomfortably?," p. 26.
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 30, 2002, "Children's Drama to Be Filmed in Wales," p. 14; May 28, 2003, "Tracy Beaker Creator Wows Young at Hay," p. 2.
Kids at Random House,http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/childrens/ (February 1, 2004), profile of Jacqueline Wilson.
Young Writer,http://www.mystworld.com/youngwriter/ (February 14, 2002), "Issue 15: Jacqueline Wilson."*