October 4, 2008

CHILDREN’s BOOKS ; BOOKS Cookie By Jacqueline Wilson. Doubleday, Pounds 12.99. Reviewed By JAYNE HOWARTH


Jacqueline Wilson has the knack of getting under children's skin, writing about subjects that are meaningful to them - or that they can empathise with.

In her latest book, Cookie, she tackles bullying in a very direct and upfront way. Beauty is unfortunately named: she is, really, quite dumpy and plain.

It's bad enough that the girls at her private school torment her, calling her Ugly, but her father is nasty, too.

She hides away, takes solace in a toddler's TV programme and becomes ever more protective of her mother. Her father is quick to criticise both her and her mother, belittling them, demoralising them and unleashing his foul temper at the slightest misdemeanour.

A property developer, he owns Happy Homes, which is ironic when you regard the atmosphere in his own four walls. He is a self-made man, he revels in material things and substitutes love for expensive gifts.

He can show affection, but at the flick of a switch he becomes distant, cold and downright nasty.

The last straw comes on Beauty's birthday, when the lavish party he throws for her ends disastrously and she and her mother run away to start a new life.

Beautifully, yet simplistically written, Wilson is able to deliver a striking tale in an engaging way.

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