Publisher: Doubleday Childrens
Release Date: January 1st, 2021
Age: Children’s/Middle Grade
Rating: 3/5 Stars
There’s a lot of Children’s/Middle Grade books out there that adults can enjoy as well as children, and with this being an offering from Jacqueline Wilson, one of my favourite authors when I was a teenager, I thought I’d really enjoy this. It was okay, and I think for it’s target audience it’s good, but there were some things that irked me about it, and it took me a fair while to actually get into it.
Okay, I’m going to start with the negatives. I’m partly disappointed about Wilson leaning so heavily on the Evil Stepmother trope. Maybe it’s used to give it a bit of a fairy-tale feel, and maybe it’s just me, but it feels like an overdone element in works for kids. I get there needed to be reasons for Lucy running away, but it would have been nice to not have it be “stepmother is cruel and parents are too distracted by New Baby”. It almost read like an AITA. It felt, too, like it maybe took a little too long to get to the part where Lucy and Kitty actually meet, and the way it got there was…a bit odd? Honestly, I think around the point just before they meet I would have DNF’d if I hadn’t DNF’d another book so recently.
Parts of the book do become a little repetitive, but as the story progresses it’s hard not to cheer Lucy and Kitty on and want things to work out well for them. One of Wilson’s strengths has always been to present dark topics, filtered through the eyes of children, in a way that children can understand. To kids, these are just part of the adventure, but some are kind of horrific from an adult’s perspective. There’s a reason her books are so beloved and widely read.
There are a few different ‘mother’ figures who pop up throughout the book, but none who are able to accept both girls as they are, and it’s sweet seeing the pair defend themselves and each other, and look out for one another. They travel across London, performing to earn themselves money, both pining for the parent figures in their lives, Lucy for her Nurse, sent away by New Mother, and Kitty for her Gaffer, a man who has “gone away”. Throughout, they argue and misunderstand, in the way kids do, and especially because of their different backgrounds, Lucy as the daughter of a fairly wealthy man, and Kitty as a child who grew up on the streets.
The ending felt very satisfying, and was a nice conclusion to what possibly looks like the first in a series. It’s an enjoyable enough book, if a little frustrating at points, but it was fine to revisit one of my favourite childhood authors, with something different than the books I read of hers when I was a kid. If you have younger readers in your life, I think this is definitely worth picking up.
Thank you to Doubleday Childrens for providing me a copy of this book via NetGalley. Views remain my own.
The Disney Reading Challenge
Prompt: Dumbo – Baby Mine – a book that features a baby/or a child
Progress: 2/40 Completed