Jacqueline Wilson has written over 70 books for young readers of all ages. In England, she has won the Children's Book of the Year Award for Double Act, The Suitcase Kid, and Girls in Tears.
Wilson (The Suitcase Kid) opens this tightly written tale with a bang: 10-year-old Mandy, after being humiliated by three bullying classmates, dashes into the street and gets hit by a bus (she sprains her arm, but is otherwise fine). Mandy's first-person narrative then settles into a credible, engaging account of how she copes with the ongoing taunting from these three "bad girls" and with the coddling of her overprotective mother. The author compellingly demonstrates the dramatic differences in the physical and emotional development among fifth graders. Things begin to look up when Mandy meets 14-year-old Tanya, a foster child who moves into a neighbor's home. With her spiky orange hair, high heels and cropped tops, Tanya couldn't look more unlike the bespectacled Mandy, whose mother dresses her in "stupid baby clothes" and insists she wear her hair in braids. Despite the differences in their ages and backgroundsÄand much to the chagrin of Mandy's motherÄthe two develop a friendship that enables the heroine to assert her individuality. Even after Tanya must move to a "children's home" (after she, with Mandy in tow, gets arrested for shoplifting), Mandy develops a strength and maturity that enable her to relate better to her mother and to brush off the barbs of the bullies. Shaping convincing characters, dialogue and plot, Wilson proves that bad girls can make for a good story. Ages 9-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 4-6-Although sharing the same title as Cynthia Voigt's Bad Girls (Scholastic, 1996), the similarity ends there. When her friend Melanie teams up with Kim and Sarah, 10-year-old Mandy White becomes the target of their taunts and gets hit by a bus while trying to run away from them. Despite the efforts of Mandy's mother, teacher, and principal, the girls continue to bully, only changing their tactics. Mandy copes better when she becomes friendly with 14-year-old Tanya, who lives in a foster-care home. Although Mandy disapproves of Tanya's shoplifting, the two end up at the police station when Tanya is caught. The author's depictions of the characters and situations ring true. The British expressions give the story a sense of place and do not interfere with its readability. It's unfortunate that the lighthearted cartoon illustrations belie the serious issues raised in the story.-Marilyn Ackerman, Brooklyn Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Wilson proves that bad girls can make for a good story."