Sunday, October 13, 2013

Jacqueline Wilson Week-- Queenie

QueenieI do try very hard to be impartial when it comes to book reviews, but when Jacqueline Wilson's UK publisher contacted me, asking me to read and review her books because they were trying to get more of them published in the US, I was thrilled. My daughter, Picky Reader, is such a huge fan that on my two trips to the UK, I was compelled to buy a lot of Wilson's books that were not available in the US. Wilson is one of the most popular children's authors in the UK, and her books are rich with details of ordinary life. Since I have so many students who are more interested in England due to the popularity of One Direction, I am more than happy to spread the word about Wilson's work.

All of the titles reviewed this week are available as ebooks, but I am hoping that they will soon be available in paper versions as well! I think that the new covers are great for the US market-- while I love the original Nick Sharrat covers, they seem too young for my middle school readers.

QueenieWilson, Jacqueline. Queenie
January 31st 2013 by Doubleday Childrens
Copy provided by the publisher.

In 1953, Elsie lives with her Nan because her mum is an actress and takes a lot of jobs far away. Elsie adores Nan, and the two have carved out a pleasant life for themselves. When Nan comes down with a bad case of tuberculosis, though, she has to go to the hospital to recover. Elsie's mum comes to try to take care of her, which works for a while, but Elsie has a bad leg. Despite her mother's objections, she eventually gets the leg seen to, and it turns out that she has a tubercular infection in her leg. Elsie ends up in a children's hospital where her leg is immobilized. There are other children in the same condition there, but Elise is most unhappy, especially when her mum takes up with her boss and doesn't come to see her very often, and doesn't give her news about Nan. Luckily, there is a nice nurse, Gabriel, who takes special care of her, and a beautiful cat on the ward, Queenie. It is about the time of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, and Elsie is disappointed because she and Nan were going to attend, but when the Queen visits the ward, Elsie can't believe her luck! Her luck runs out soon when her mother takes off to Canada with her boss, who leaves his wife and business. Eventually, both Elsie and Nan are cured, and are able to look after themselves again.
Strengths: Finally, a fiction book to go with the great Jim Murphy title, Invincible Microbe! The details about both the lung and joint versions of the disease are great, most of the nurses are wonderful villains, and the information about Elizabeth's coronation make this an unusual slice of history.
Weaknesses: The nurses think that Elsie is unpleasant and a bit soft because of all her story telling, and after the twenty page aside where Elsie is describing birthday parties, I was about ready to agree. This is a common theme in Wilson's work (children who want to write), but I didn't care much for Elsie personally.


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