The Jacqueline Wilson Christmas Cracker
by Jacqueline Wilson (Random House, $19.99)
Reviewed by Sophie Robinson, age 12
On the first page of Jacqueline Wilson’s new book The Jacqueline Wilson Christmas Cracker, the well-known and loved character Tracy Beaker is jealous because her arch-rival Justine has a present from her Dad. The present carries a label saying ‘Do not open till 25th December!’ You will have to work hard to obey that instruction, too, if you are a fan of Jacqueline Wilson. The book has excerpts featuring many of her best characters are packed into over 300 pages of hilarious holiday reading. There’s Hetty Feather, twins Garnet and Ruby, and of course Tracy Beaker, ‘You’re Tracy Beaker, so you get to be big bossy knickers, right?’
Whenever I find a new Jacqueline Wilson book, I just have to sit down and read it straight away. And that is just what I had to do with this book too. Jacqueline Wilson has a way of making the characters come to life, and it feels as though you are really there beside them in the story.
The excerpts are a good length. While I like Jacqueline Wilson’s full-length books best, it is easy to get so attached to the characters that when I come to the end of the book, it is hard to let the characters go. If the excerpts were only very short, it would be easier at the end of each one to let it go, but there also wouldn’t be the chance to get so attached to the characters. I think in this book they have made the excerpts a good length: long enough to really get absorbed and enjoy them.
As well as plenty of story-excerpts, there are other Christmas-themed activities. In the section about Christmas traditions around the world, in Brazil ‘children leave a sock near a window … if papai noel finds it he will swap it for a present.’ There is a recipe for Garnet and Ruby’s Gingerbread Twins, and Charlie’s Christmas Cake. Tips on wrapping presents, Christmas puzzles, and jokes are in there too: ‘What happened to the girl who ate Christmas decorations? She got tinselitis!’
As with Jacqueline Wilson’s other books, each story is about family and friends – coming together, resolving issues, and being themselves. If you’re lucky enough to find this book in your stocking at Christmas, then as Milly says in the story ‘Happy New Year’, ‘Maybe it’s going to be a Happy New Year after all.’ I can definitely recommend this book, especially to all the adults who do the Christmas shopping – just remember it’s more of a girl’s book than a boy’s book! And for ages, I would say 8 – 12 year olds.
Jacqueline Wilson lives in England and her books have won many awards including the British Children’s Book of the Year. She was the author most borrowed from British libraries in the last decade.