Jacqueline Wilson writes prolifically for and about young people – mainly girls around the age of, say, 8-12 years. Her books always tackle difficult issues and almost always feature people coming to terms with changes or problems in their home and family – divorce, re-marriage, being part of a single parent family, being in care or being fostered / adopted.

In The Suitcase Kid, Andy’s parents have split up and have sold Mulberry Cottage, the home that she grew up in and that she loved. She is devastated and, because nobody can agree where she should live, she ends up with a nomadic existence trotting back and forth between Mum and Dad and their new partners and her new step-families. Neither place feels like home, neither family seems to accept Andy, even her parents seem to care more about their new lives than they do about Andy – and all the while she continues to grieve for what she has lost. Her unhappiness spirals out of control, and all she wants to do is to go home.

As always, Wilson’s tone is light but serious and respectful, her voice is absolutely authentic, and her message is clear: it isn’t going to be perfect, but it’s going to be OK.

Here’s an Amazon link.
I got my copy “free” with a copy of Girl Talk magazine (price £1.40).

Girl Talk magazine, incidentally, has the merit of being produced by the BBC and therefore lacks much in the way of actual advertising – if you ignore the features on which flip-flops to buy, which clothes to buy, which popstars are hot (buy their songs) and what Stuff! to buy for your bezzie, that is.

However, even apart from the comsumerist-gone-mad mini-shopaholic mentality, it has very little to recommend it. There is plenty about how and what to consume, plenty of reinforcement about what constitutes “girliness” (pink colour scheme, gossip and celebrity-obsession, lots of giggling with your mates, pretty hair and clothes and make-up – jeez, 8-yr-old girls are being told to buy beauty products to keep their feet looking nice) and that’s about it.

Nothing, not even a nod, to any girl who isn’t a “girly-girl”. Even at a time when the whole of the BBC was going crazy to promote the Sport Relief Mile, the best that Girl Talk can manage is a photostory of some girly-girl friends who desperately want to do the mile because they heard they might get a chance to meet someone called Dani Harmer*. WTF?!

*I Googled her. Apparently she plays Tracy Beaker in the TV adaptation of Jacquiline Wilson’s Tracy Beaker books. So there you go.

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