I’ve seen lots of stuff online in the last few weeks about the publication of My Mum Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson’s newest book, which revisits one of her oldest characters, only now grown up with her own child.
Tracy Beaker has spawned three sequels and four television series, but I’ve actually only read the first two books (The Story of Tracy Beaker and The Dare Game), because I’ve had them since I was a child. I decided to get out The Story of Tracy Beaker and see how it held up after such a long time. I’m still thinking about getting the sequels.
Introducing Tracy Beaker, 10-year-old girl-wonder and the daughter of a famous Hollywood actress . . . sort of.
Tracy Beaker’s not exactly sure what her mother does, because Tracy has been in foster care for as long as she can remember. She has a picture of her mother, who’s pretty enough to be in movies, so maybe she is. And maybe one day Tracy’s mother will show up and reclaim her long-lost daughter, and together they’ll have fabulous adventures. Then again, maybe she won’t. In the meantime, Tracy’s doing everything she can to take care of herself, even though she has to share her birthday cake with silly Peter Ingram just because they have the same birthday… and even though the other girls she lives with are mean and nasty and rude and horrible. Mostly. Then a journalist shows up to write a story about their orphanage, and she and Tracy strike up a special friendship.
In a story written with humour and sensitivity, Tracy emerges as a spirited girl who’s not quite as tough as she lets everybody think she is.
I was surprised, in rereading this book, how complex it is, but also how little of it I retained. It was short, and it was funny, and cleverly displayed a non-traditional family setup without ever being schmaltzy.
It’s definitely not my favourite Jacqueline Wilson book (I think that honour has to go to Double Act) but it stands up very well after almost 30 years, and I’m certainly tempted to keep going with the rest of the series. There’s definitely a lot to chew on in this short instalment alone, and it’s a good introduction to the concept of an unreliable narrator, too!
An oldie, but a goodie.