Sunday, 28 September 2014

UK Writer and Illustrator

Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt Opal Plumstead

Doubleday 2014  $34.99pb 515pp

ISBN 978 0 8575 3110 0

Themes: Factory work/ Love stories/ Prisons UK 1900s/ Suffragettes/ World War I

    It is 1913 and Opal’s father, in a bid to provide happier times for his family is caught stealing from his employer and is sent to prison for a year leaving the family destitute. Opal is forced to leave school and is given work in a sweet factory where she is made fun of especially for her love of art and books. She meets the well-born son of the owner of the factory and, of course, they fall in love! Sounds trite and predictable?  It is far from that and I think, this, Jacqueline Wilson’s 100th book, is one of her very best – and if you can read the last few pages without your eyes at least filling, if not overflowing with tears, you are made of stronger stuff than me. She does warn us with don’t turn the page: believe in happy endings but naturally we do.

   In a generous 520 pages, is a story full of details of life in England at that time – the young men wanting to enlist / the frustrations for girls who had a good brain and wanted to use it/ the attitudes of neighbours to any family who had a member ‘inside’/ the simple pleasures of a ‘day at the seaside’…

   As with all Jacqueline Wilson’s books the story is enhanced by the line drawings by Nick Sharratt which in every case whet our appetites for what is to follow. 

Year 7 up/ Age 11 up

Note: Some adult themes

It has been a weekend of World War I as not only did I read this book ALMOST at a sitting I have also been to the Friends of the Kapiti Coast District Libraries seminar  - Some Foreign Field – writing about WWI – then and now.  This began on Friday night with Harry Ricketts talking about and reading the poetry of World War I poets. I have heard Harry speak on this subject before and enjoyed it so much each time. Saturday morning was given over to a panel discussion –Writing about the war – fiction and fact.  The panellists included Philippa Werry (Best Mates and ANZAC Day: the New Zealand story) and who was in Gallipoli this year working as a volunteer with the hordes of visitors who were there to mark the event held annually around  25th April.

More carefully chosen and very appropriate poetry read by John? Secker, standing in for Peter Fry, was enjoyed.

A good weekend!

Here is Philippa talking to John? Secker after the session.

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