A naughty but lovely girl

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2007, 12:00am

This week The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson

Written by award-winning novelist Jacqueline Wilson, The Story of Tracy is written in first person narrative.

That means that it's written as if Tracy is writing the book. This is most appropriate as Tracy's ambition in life is to be a writer.

Tracy is living in a children's home, sometimes referred to as a care home. She has been abandoned by her mother.

She covers this up by pretending that her mother is a famous actress who's too busy to come and see her.

The key point to Tracy's character is that she is quite naughty and keeps getting into trouble.

The writer keeps us interested by writing in such a way that we like Tracy a lot in spite of her naughtiness.

Talking to us directly

One of the reasons that we like Tracy is because she talks to us very directly.

It sounds just like the voice of a 10-year-old child talking rather than that of an adult writer.

She tells us, for example, that she has had two sets of foster parents.

This is when a family agree to take a child into their home and look after them for a while.

She ends up being returned to the children's home and says: 'They've advertised me in the papers but there weren't many takers and now I think they're getting a bit desperate.'

This is very sad, and we can imagine the pain inside Tracy at this rejection, and at the thought of what might become of her.

However, there is no sign of any self-pity; she does not dwell on her troubles and this makes her an attractive character to the reader.

Her friend Peter

Tracy has had a lot of experience in children's homes.

She makes friends with a boy in the home called Peter.

He is much more vulnerable than she is, and is not confident about how best to survive there.

Tracy could ignore him and be friends with other girls who are more like her.

She realises that Peter needs to be looked after, and she shows her kindness by advising him and helping him.

Tracy meets a real writer

The main climax of the book comes when a real writer visits the children's home.

She is writing an article for a magazine about the children who live in such homes. The writer makes the meeting humorous.

Tracy completely inflates her expectations of what the writer will be like. She imagines her to be posh and glamorous (just as she imagines her mother).

She even dresses up for the occasion, borrowing make-up from another girl, in order to impress the writer.

Real writers are ordinary

The humour comes from the fact that the writer is very ordinary, dressed in ordinary scruffy clothes.

She is called Cam, short for Camilla.

She forms a good relationship with Tracy because she treats her seriously, and talks to her as if she is an adult rather than a naughty little child.

She also encourages Tracy by praising her writing.

Tracy begins to hope that Cam will be her foster parent. She visits Cam's flat. It is small and scruffy, and Tracy soon begins to imagine how she will improve it.

An open ending

Wilson avoids sentimentality. It would be easy to give this story a happy ending by having Tracy move in with Cam. Instead, the book ends with Tracy hoping that this is what will happen.

It seems like Tracy will face another disappointment, but it is this tough-minded grasp of reality that makes Wilson such an effective writer.