I think Jacqueline Wilson has to be one of my favourite children’s authors, and that’s why I’ve chosen her for my first Author Focus. I want to look at different authors and illustrators, and round up my top picks from their canon. Jacqueline Wilson has the perfect style for KS2 and KS3 readers as she moves through the trials and tribulations of childhood, and early adolescence. She is able to provide windows into different types of families and experiences, while creating likeable characters that you root for. Here is where I would start with Jacqueline Wilson:
The Cat Mummy is a perfect starter for younger readers as it is easy to read and its themes aren’t too heavy. Verity hides the death of her beloved cat Mabel using some of the Egyptian techniques she has learnt in school. Perfect for introducing the idea of death or thinking about pets, and very easy to empathise with the protagonist.
The Lottie Project is again another story without heavy themes that introduces readers to the time flip narrative structure. It looks at the lives of Charlie and Lottie, and helps Charlie think about her problems as she studies the Victorians. Another easy read, and would be a great independent read when studying the Victorians!
Lola Rose is the first of the heavier books on this list, and I would say is much more appropriate for Upper KS2 and above. It looks at the tale of Jayni as she escapes from her bad-tempered father with her mother and brother. The theme of domestic violence means it wouldn’t be appropriate for younger readers. Harrowing and gripping in equal parts though.
The Illustrated Mum contains one of the most heartbreaking scenes in fiction and one that has stayed with me since my first reading. It looks at the lives of Dolphin and Star, and their unconventionally tattooed mother Marigold. Amazon describes it as a ‘heartbreaking tale about family, mental health and strong sisterly love’ and I think that sums it up in a nutshell. My favourite of all Wilson’s books, this will stick with you forever.
I could really keep going forever with the suggestions, some others I love include: Vicky Angel, Bad Girls, Double Act, Midnight… I think Jacqueline Wilson is the perfect for your reluctant girl readers in Year 5 and 6 who tend to like gritty stories about girls like them. The Girls In Love series is fantastic for young teens, and addresses some key issues about self-esteem and boys! Let me know what authors you’d like to see next in this series.