Thursday 15 March 2012

Children's book review : Hetty Feather - Jacqueline Wilson

10-year-old Sophie is a huge bookworm and her favourite author is, without a second's hesitation, Jacqueline Wilson. After discovering Tracy Beaker on TV, she worked through Jacqueline Wilson's entire bibliography. Nevertheless, reading Hetty Feather was a huge challenge, just for the sheer size of it. At almost 400 pages, it's certainly the biggest novel she's undertaken to read so far.

As you would imagine from the title, Hetty Feather is the heroine of the novel. When just a tiny baby, she is abandoned by her mother at the gates of the Foundling Hospital. She spends her first carefree years in the countryside, not realising that her foster family can only look after her for a few years, before she must be returned to the Foundling Hospital - reminiscent of Oliver Twist's Workhouse - to be trained as a servant.

The tale starts in the 1870's and gives a really good, child-friendly insight into Victorian England. Modern children will be horrified by the tales of hardship and hard work, but, along with Hetty, they will realise that there are others, living in the derelict slums of London, who have it even worse.

Despite living in a totally different era, Hetty often reminded me of Tracy Beaker, which I'm sure will be very appealing to Jacqueline Wilson fans. Hetty is a kind-hearted but adventurous and feisty girl, constantly getting into trouble and heading off on adventures. Just like Tracy, she dreams of finding her real mum, using her over-active imagination to build up a fantasy world with her reunited mum which turns out to be just a pipe dream. But when it all comes crashing down around her, Hetty gets a lucky break and discovers that the truth was closer than she ever thought. She gets her happy ending and discovers that her original name was ... Sapphire Battersea, which - not surprisingly - is what Sophie wants to read next !

As an adult, I had worked out exactly where the story was going from very early on, but Sophie didn't, and marvelled at the chance encounters and the gruesome details of life as a child in the tough Victorian Foundling Hospital. She said that it made her realise how many things we take for granted now and that she's glad she was born now rather than in the 1870's !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £5.99

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (5 Aug 2010)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0440868351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440868354

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  1. I am no fan of Tracy Beaker and do not let my daughter watch it (so far), didn't know they were by the same writer. I will have to read so of her book myself so see exactly what they are teaching my daughter. @jessws2011

  2. I love Jacqueline Wilson, I so vividly remember the first time I read The Suitcase Kid when I was still a teenager and was just blown away, I have read it over and over since! This sounds like a sweet story :)

  3. hello is there anyway jessws2011 can give me her name? I know it seems a little bit personal but I'm writing my dissertation on the debates about childrens books and their contorversial subjects and this page is a primeexample of what im looking for but i need to reference you so you dont sue me for plagerism :) if you could that would be great

    1. That's her twitter name so try sending her a tweet. You didn't leave a way of contacting you anyway. Good luck with the dissertation.


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