Jacky Daydream by Jacqueline Wilson
|Jacky Daydream by Jacqueline Wilson|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Easy to read and full of sparkle as ever, Jacqueline Wilson comes up trumps with this story of her childhood. It's a revealing snapshot of both 1950s Britain and the passion with which she approaches her work.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 307||Date: March 2007|
In Jacky Daydream, Jacqueline Wilson recounts her life from her earliest memories up to the time she finishes primary school after passing the eleven plus at the second attempt. Wilson, a child of the post war years, creates a fascinating picture of a child with an extremely vivid inner life and intersperses the various vignettes with the scenes they inspired in her books. The young Jacky played with dolls like April in Dustbin Baby, dealt with an unpredictable father like Prue in Love Lessons and sat entrance exams like Ruby in Double Act. She also imagined and wrote, imagined and wrote and imagined and wrote.
I like the idea of established children's authors writing for children, not adults, about their lives, about the creative process and about what inspires them. It explains so well to children that all good fiction, even the most fantastical, is based, at least in part, on real life. Reading Michael Morpurgo's Singing For Mrs Pettigrew a year or so ago was a revelation to my son. There are several passages in Jacky Daydream in which Wilson describes her early attempts at writing - she fabricated family days out and felt awful when her exaggerations were discovered. She copied situations from books she'd read but inserted her own thoughts and feelings. The whole of childhood is about taking tiny steps from dependence to independence and finding one's own creative style is no different. To read about someone else's steps is captivating for little ones.
I'm more than twenty years younger than Jacqueline Wilson and more than twenty years older than the children for whom she writes. What really struck me about Jacky Daydream was how squarely I fall between the two. Much of the 1950s obsession with appearance and manners had disappeared by the early 1970s when I was at junior school, but I still knew I was posher than the children in my class who wore plimsolls, and I still sang "Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Jews, Jews, Jews, bought his wife, wife, wife, a pair of shoes, shoes, shoes" when I was skipping. Thanks to Jacky Daydream, I can't get that song out of my head! They don't sing it any more you know. I'm not even sure if they actually skip outside of PE. However, it doesn't matter how many years go by, the emotional landscape is the same, and children will find more to recognise in Jacky Daydream than they will that is strange or dated.
Jacky Daydream is, obviously, going to be most popular with Wilson's enormous fanbase of girls at late primary and early secondary school. Wilson might write about feisty, volatile girls such as Tracy Beaker, but she herself was very much a girly girl, obsessed with dolls and ballet dancing. She didn't do much rebelling, or get into many scrapes of the kind that would interest boys. However, with her usual deceptive cleverness, Wilson has made Jacky Daydream very easy to read, yet it is a book with depth and complexity actually suitable for a wide range of readers. Its short and snappy sentences could happily be approached by a newly confident reader, while a much older child, and adults too, would find the emotional subtexts both touching and engaging. The wealth of detail would also make it an ideal choice for a teacher talking about life in Britain during the post war years.
I don't know how this lady does it, but she always does it well, and she always makes it look easy.
My thanks to Random House for sending the book.
Late primary and early secondary children might also enjoy Michael Morpurgo's Singing For Mrs Pettigrew which talks about the writing process from an autobiographical point of view and Roald Dahl's Boy about his own childhood. Older children would like David Almond's Counting Stars - more stories with an autobiographical twist.
You can read more book reviews or buy Jacky Daydream by Jacqueline Wilson at Amazon.com.
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