Hankering to be Jacqueline Wilson

 I went to a talk by the children’s author Jacqueline Wilson recently with my daughter. She may be a teenager now at college but she’s still got a soft spot for Tracy Beaker.

Tracy Beaker must be the favourite of so many. She’s probably got masses of children thinking they would rather be her in a children’s home than have their own boring, loving, secure family homes and doting parents. I’m sure my children have in the past.

Jacqueline Wilson’s books were a godsend to our home educating days. Something that the children were pleased to read when Harry Potter was still too much of a daunting tome for them and didn’t have the appealing illustrations by Nick Sharratt. Jacqueline’s stories motivated the children to read, to love books, and to write – even try their own diaries. Great for days when I was racking my brains for ways to entice them to practice their reading and writing.

Jacqueline’s very sweet. She told us something of her own life, the inspiration for her stories, how she came to be a children’s writer. And I think I hankered to be her more than the kids in the audience hankered to be Tracy Beaker.

Questions were invited at the end and I thought I would burst resisting the temptation to put my hand up. But then I didn’t want to embarrass my teenager or have her wrestle with me as she tried physically to hold my arms down.

Anyway, I’m obviously unimaginative because all my questions were asked by the younger members of the audience, so I got my answers indirectly. Then, with the last question, came a surprise from a tiny little voice; “Is your mum proud of you?”

Jacqueline was visibly moved. But she never managed to answer a direct ‘Yes’. Because it seems, as she went on to tell us, that her mother was not really the kind of mother to give her a pat on the back and had never even read any of her books. So she didn’t know if her mum was proud or not. How sad is that; after all her achievements and awards? The audience were visibly moved too – or audibly as a ripple of empathy could be heard from the hush.

No one more so than my daughter who turned to me with emotional eyes clearly feeling for Jacqui, slipped her arm in mine and said; ‘You’re a lovely mum’.

Makes it all worthwhile really. Maybe she doesn’t want to be Tracy Beaker after all!

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