Webchat with best-selling author Jacqueline Wilson

Her books | Social issues in children's novels | Being a writer | Encouraging children to read | Personal

This is an edited transcript of a live webchat with Jacqueline Wilson on Tues 10 March 2009

Her books

Letter Qahundredtimes: My son ran the gamut of ridicule by reading 'pink, girls' books at school JacquelineWilsonbecause he loved them so, he used to say 'well, who said they were girls books?' ) Actually, that's my question: do you think it's a shame that your books seem to be primarily targeted at girls or is that right, are they written for girls?
Letter AJacqueline: I feel my books are for anyone who wants to read them, male or female. However, my publishers always seem to want my jackets to be bright pink and I agree it's a bit off-putting for boys, and indeed some girls too. I've just published a fourth Tracy Beaker book, for Comic Relief. It's called Tracy Beaker's Thumping Heart, and Comic Relief gets £2 for every book that's sold.
 

Letter QFrannyandZooey: Jacqueline, I would like to ask several questions. First, is Cam gay? At the end of Clean Break, does the dad really come back? Can the family forgive him? Will it work out, or are they doomed to further troubles? Do any of your characters haunt you? I feel particularly distressed by Mary and her mother in The Diamond Girls In Midnight, it seems to me there are some S+M sexual undertones to Will's games. Was this deliberate? Finally, who is your favourite character from your books? I am quite taken with the saucy, curvy Miranda from Kiss at the moment I also love Beauty - her vulnerability is very charming. And really I would just like to gush about how wonderful I think your books are, I particularly like The Illustrated Mum, and Kiss. Thank you very much.
Letter AJacqueline: Hi FrannyandZooey. Presumably you're a Sallinger fan - me too. Interesting questions. I don't spell things out in my books. I like readers to make up their own minds. However, Cam could be gay: I certainly feel her friends are in The Dare Game. Dad DOES come back at the end of Clean Break - but I'm not entirely sure everything will end happily ever after. Will is a slightly sinister brother, but I'm not sure he's into S&M! My favourite character hasn't been published yet - she's a Victorian Foundling, called Hetty Feather. You'll be able to read about her in October.
FrannyandZooey: Thanks for reply - I like things left for me to make my mind up but then I like to know THE TRUTH!
 

Letter Qpointydog: Questions from dd2 (10). 1. What is your favourite book that you have written? 2. What was your first ever prize?

Letter AJacqueline: My favourite book is perhaps The Illustrated Mum. I think my first prize was The Children's Book Award organised by the Federation of Children's Book Groups, for The Suitcase Kid.
 

Letter QSquonk: I have a question from dd1 (15). She would like to know if you are planning to revisit any of your younger characters so we can see how they have grown up, perhaps into early adulthood?
Letter AJacqueline: Dear Squonk, and teenage daughter. I've already thought of doing this, I think it would be fun. I shall ponder...I get a lot of letters on this topic. People are particularly keen to find out what happens next to the Diamond Girls.
 

Letter QBlondilocks: DD (aged 10) loves your books and was very excited to hear that you would be doing the mumsnet livechat. She wanted to say/ask the following: I loved the Cheltenham literary festival when I heard you talk about the new book Cookie and you said about My Secret Diary and I have been looking forward to reading it and now I can! I am very glad that I got Cookie signed - I will treasure it forever! Are you going to publish more books about when you are growing up or have you already put all of that into the latest book? Do you have any tips for people who want to be an author because I would really like to write books when I am older.
Letter AJacqueline: I'm so glad your daughter liked Cookie. I've been thinking about writing a third volume of autobiography, but it won't be for a while yet.
 

Letter QSquirrell: We saw a production of Secrets at Polka theatre about 18 months ago, it was fantastic for both children and adults. Are there any plans for any more productions of your work on stage in the near future - please say yes! My daughter can't get enough of your books.
Letter AJacqueline: I was very happy with Vicky Ireland's adaptation of Secrets. I very much hope we will be able to work together in the future. It's exciting for an author to see their work transformed on stage - or on the television - I absolutely loved the TV film of Dustbin Baby shown just before Christmas.
 

Letter QMayorNaze: Welcome to MN! Will think of a really deep and meaningful question before the chat but until then... I am a huge fan of all the books (am waiting for Beauty -- for me -- for ds on library reservation) but one thing that really bugged me about Midnight is that the dad is such a baddy - and is a Mason? On the whole freemasons are goodies, my dh is anyway! Sorry - couldn't not take the opportunity to say that but apart from that I am a big big fan...honest...
Letter AJacqueline: Hello MayorNaze. The dad in Midnight is certainly a bit of a bully, though not all bad. Of course I don't think all masons, or indeed policemen, are baddies - just this particular fictional one!
 

Letter Qteafortwo: Hey - You gave a great Woman's Hour interview - it really helped me get through the washing up on Monday and go to work with a smile! Thanks! So my question is:
I know a girl who unlike lots of 'tweenies' does not spend her days shopping, hanging out with mates or msning but her life seems to be an equal balance of delicious daydreaming, sailing away in a good book and writing wonderful stories. Perhaps this sounds familiar to you? I know she found a fellow soul in Jackie Daydreamer and your books mean a huge amount to her. The girl I am telling you about is called Aneeka. Do you have a message I can give, a fellow daydreamer, that will make her gush with delight and be rightfully proud of her thoughtful and careful reading ability, wonderful imagination and most beautiful writing skills? Thank you for your time.
Letter AJacquelineWilson: I'm glad you enjoyed my piece on Woman's Hour. I love the sound of Aneeka - she seems such a special girl. Perhaps I'll try to put an Aneeka in one of my books one day.
 

Letter Qtwoluvlykids: Hi Jacqueline. My DD is a very grown up 13 almost 14 yo, and feels she has outgrown your books - do you plan to write any for the 'older' reader?

Letter AJacquelineWilson: Your daughter might like to read My Secret Diary, even if it's just to raise an eyebrow at my 14-year-old self. I was very young for my age in lots of ways. But if she feels she's outgrown my books, that's fine - there's a whole wonderful world of adult literature out there.
twoluvlykids: OOOH thank you for replying - dd just looked over my shoulder and said "OH, JW on Mumsnet" and promptly looked up the name of your Grandmother (from Jacky Daydream) so maybe I'll give her My Secret Diary. (You don't look 63.)
 

Letter QTidey: Did you write some books about a character called Stevie Day?


Letter AJacquelineWilson: I did indeed write four books about a tomboy teenage detective called Stevie Day, though they've been out of print for many years now.
Tidey: Thank you so much for answering my question. I remember reading the Stevie Day books when I was about 12, and loved them but couldn't find any info on them on the internet. I was starting to think I'd imagined them. They should be reprinted, by the way, they were fab!
 

Letter QAllottwant: In Suitcase Kid, is the main character based on anyone in real life? Also my mum used to visit a children's home just like the one Tracy Beaker lives in as she was a social worker but she really doesn't like Elaine The Pain and says most social workers aren't like this!! Is Elaine based on anyone you know? Thanks, Eleanor (aged 8)
Letter AJacquelineWilson: Dear Eleanor at Allottwant, Andy in The Suitcase Kid is an invented character. However, her little lucky mascot Radish is based an old toy belonging to my daughter, Emma. I'm so sorry Elaine the Pain seems a bit of a caricature - Tracy Beaker isn't very fair to her. I know lots of social workers, and I think they do a wonderful job.
 

Letter Qnoonki: My stepson loved your books when he was younger but used to only read them in his bedroom because the covers were so girly. Is there anyway that the books could come out a bit more genderless. I know it should matter but unfortuately to kids it can! PS I loved The Illustrated Mum, I thought it was wonderfully insightful as to how children can love and be so angry and let down by a parent all in one.
Letter AJacquelineWilson: I'm so touched your stepson read my books in the privacy of his own room, good for him. The Illustrated Mum is my own personal favourite and I loved the TV film starring Michelle Collins.
 

Letter QToffeepopple: My six-year-old son just got his first ever chapter book home from school and it is one of yours (Mark Spark in the Dark). He really enjoyed it, any suggestions of which titles of yours he should tackle next? When we go our local bookshops all we seem to see are pink fairy books on all the shelves and he gets a bit disheartened.
Letter AJacquelineWilson: I'm glad your son enjoyed Mark Spark in the Dark. He might also like Mr Cool, and My Brother Bernadette. The Dinosaur's Packed Lunch is another...don't be deterred by the fairies!

Social issues in children's books

Letter QUnicorn: My daughter has read all your books and has always been a fan but finds them depressing. I know you deal with many important 'issues'. But aren't these issues too heavy for children? Does children's literature really have to reflect real life? What about escapism? Fun? You have said that as a society we expose kids to adult ideas before they are ready. Do you accept any responsibility for your part in this?
Letter AJacqueline: I appreciate your concern and I'm sad if your daughter finds my books depressing. I try very hard to make my books reassuring and even uplifting, though I agree several teenage titles could be seen as a little bleak. I have an enormous postbag from children, and over a hundred thousand members of my website send me emails. Many of these children confide their fears and worries, and frequently these are far more troubling than anything I could invent. I try hard to reassure children, and often stay up late writing postcards in response. I also hope I have a light touch in my books for younger readers and try to make the stories as lively and funny as possible. I hope I don't introduce children to 'adult' ideas before they are ready - but I suppose I can't please everybody all of the time.
 

Letter QSimpleAsABC: Just wanted to say that i've always been a big fan and that one of the reasons I think this may have been is the presence of real life 'issues' in the books. I'm 21 now, but can remember the day we got Vicky Angel into our secondary school library, I was there first to make sure I didn't have to wait a week for it! Well done for tackling sensitive and important issues in a way which is accessible to children and adults alike.
Letter AJacqueline: Your message means so much to me - I'm so pleased that enjoyed reading my books.

SimpleAsABC: Jacqueline, thank you for replying to my post. I was kicking myself for having not asked a direct (or any sort of, for that matter) question when I started reading the early answers. I'm made up!
 

Letter Qiamnotimpressed: Some of your books tackle fostering and care issues in a very understanding way. Were these issues important to you personally? By the way, our six year old is called Lola Rose!
Letter AJacqueline: I don't have any direct experience of fostering or adopting, but since writing The Story of Tracy Beaker - many years ago - I have become involved with the Fostering Network and similar organisations and met many children in these circumstances. I think Lola Rose is a great name!
iamnotimpressed: Jacqueline, thank you for answering my question about experience of fostering and adoption. As an adopted adult, you have helped me explain these issues in a child friendly way and you are an inspiration.
 

Letter Qbundle: My eldest daughter who's eight and a half is reading a lot about Anne Frank and I understand you're a big fan too (it's the lovely book with all the family photos and reproductions of pages of her diary in it). Last night my husband read the end of it with her and she was in tears and couldn't sleep, because of Anne's death - so I cuddled her and read the first chapter of What Katy Did (!!) to distract her. Obviously, I'll be doing more careful selection of bedtime reading tonight - but do you think that we expect too much of our children in terms of the subject matter they read about (her peers seem to be reading similar books)? We live in London, so life is a bit more complex than where I grew up in a quietish town in the north west. Other recent favourites have been Tom's Midnight Garden, lots of your books, some Roald Dahl - though I've banned dh from getting a copy of the tearjerker, Froggy's Little Brother.
Letter AJacqueline: It sounds as if you have a very sensitive and lovely daughter - though I think most eight year olds would find Anne Frank's story harrowing. It's difficult to give any guidelines about giving our children truthful information - they vary so in their responses. I think parents know best.
 

Letter QKingRolo: In Love Lessons you write about a relationship between a teacher and teenage student. It’s written from the girl’s perspective but it is clear that the teacher is tempted by her. As an adult reader I can see that Rax is an emotionally immature guy with a few (ahem) issues but I don't think I'd have seen it like that when I was 13. Do you think you are encouraging impressionable girls to believe that the teachers they have crushes on could really have feelings for them too? And if so, is this a good idea? Thanks! I'm looking forward to reading My Secret Diary. DD is too young for your books at the moment but I love them.
Letter AJacqueline: I appreciate your point about Love Lessons. I try to make it very clear in the book that Prudence is a very vulnerable girl and yes, Rax is in some ways intoxicated by her feelings for him - but I truly don't think it will encourage girls to believe that teachers might reciprocate their feelings. I've talked to lots of girls about Love Lessons and they certainly get engrossed in the story. Some are disappointed that Rax and Prue don't walk off into the sunset together. However, they all shriek with derisive laughter at the idea of falling in love with any of their teachers!
 

Letter QUnquietDad: I don't have a question, but I just want to say that DD has loved Jacqueline's books for ages, although she was unhappy with the ending of Double Trouble, to the extent that she took the time to write an "extra page" giving it a happy ending...
Letter AJacqueline: I wonder if you mean my book Double Act? I tried to give it a happy and satisfying ending, but obviously your daughter disagrees!
 

Letter QShitemum: Posted on behalf of: traceycpn: I'm employed by the NHS. I work on the campus on the Isle Of Bute, children (ages 5-18). My role is as a counseller. Another aspect of my job is to prevent mental illness by "normalising" stress. I feel very strongly that the books you write, help these children to normalise the trauma in their life. Nick Sharratt has visited our school in the past, a beautiful wee island, just off the West coast of Scotland. Would you please come and present a book reading of your new book to them? You are inspirational to many of these children, we would pay your expenses, the school role is approx 1,000, a great oppertunity to see a fantastic part of Scotland and be the catalyst for change in a young person's life. Kind regards, Tracey
Letter AJacqueline: Dear Tracey, it sounds as if you're doing a great job on the Isle of Bute. I know how beautiful it is - I once stayed for a week in Kilcartin (?) Bay. I wish I could come again, but I'm afraid my travelling days are largely over as I have heart failure and have to take it as easy as possible now.
 

Letter QBoco: I was involved with the Scope project Putting Children in the Picture, trying to get illustrators and publishers to include more disabled children in mainstream children's books, and I met you at the exhibition last year when you had some very direct and interesting suggestions from a particularly passionate 12 year old with some ideas on this subject. Do you have any plans to write a main character with a disability? How can this be encouraged in children's fiction?
Letter AJacqueline: I agree it would be great to write a book about a disabled child, and maybe I will do it one day. However, it doesn't quite work like this when you're a novelist - I have to have a character come alive in my head, desperate for me to write their story! I can't seem to write to order even if I want to.
 

Letter QCarriemumsnet: We're all very excited both at MN towers and in my house so thanks so much for coming to talk to us. I'm just cross I won't be able to be there at 9pm tonight. So.... A couple of questions - the books all look much the same with the great Nick Sharratt drawings but the subject matter varies widely. Have you thought of having ratings - as you might get on DVD's or at least a bit more warning about subject matter ? My daughter always has your latest book on her wishlist, and has read most of them but I wish I'd read Kiss and Love Lessons before she did, and certainly before she started reading them out loud to Grandma! (she was 9 now 10). I know there's some blurb on the back, but it might be useful to have a - not suitable for younger readers sticker - or something on the book? Basically, do you ever worry that some of your fans are exposed to some things too early because they just want to read all your books and not all are suitable for all age groups? Sorry this isn't supposed to sound negative - we love your books. I would though urge parents to make sure they read them too, ideally before your child does (not always easy to wrestle it away I know). It's no hardship as they're a good read and it's useful to be able to talk through some of the issues they raise, having read them. Thanks again for coming on and keep the books coming!
Letter AJacquelineWilson: Hi Carriemumsnet, sorry you can't be with us! I do see your point - although my publishers do try hard to make it clear what each book is about. I think my older books are going to have a kind of rating system on the future.
 

Letter Qmadwomanintheattic: hi jacqueline, sort of similar to unicorn's question i'm afraid...I will confess to having asked freereading seven-year-old dd1's teacher not to give her Jacqueline Wilson books, as (at the time) they did seem to contain an awful lot of information that i felt (in her cocooned middle class two parent family life) wasn't necessary to introduce at that point. This was two years ago and she has since devoured most of your books and the entire harry potter series, as well as anything else she can get her hands on, and seems remarkably unscathed grin. I was just wondering whether you would have tried to change my mind about seven-year-old dd? Do you think there is a minimum age for your books? Do you think it depends on family circumstances, or should we be introducing younger children who are not personally affected to these sorts of issues? I'm still in two minds about it all, although obviously we are now past the 'decision point'... you're probably bored with being asked this... sorry! <maybe i just wanted to get the confession off my chest>
Letter AJacquelineWilson: I think it very much depends WHICH of my books are offered to seven year olds - I don't think some of my titles should be in a year three classroom. Perhaps light-hearted books like Cliffhanger, Sleepovers, The Mum-minder or Best Friends are the right sort of choice for this age.
 

Letter Qmagsnag: I do supportive lodgings (stepping stone between foster care and independent living) which is for youngsters aged 16-18. I currently have a 16 year old, and my first ever girl who arrived at 16 is about to turn 21 in a few weeks and now a mum herself (and a very good one at that). I would like to say how true to life so many of your books are and how much in common between your stories and some of the lives of the youngsters we have/had with us. Reading your books (which I borrow when Abigail has read them) as well as my own background has helped me to understand some of the reason my youngsters behave in the way that they do, and I'm sure will help when I start training as a social worker. Thankyou for joining on here - you are a star.
Letter AJacqueline: I think it's wonderful there's such a thing as your supportive living scheme. It's easy for me to write about fictional children and teenagers, it's much much harder to work with real young people.

Being a writer

Letter QGumsNRoses: My daughter is a massive fan, she would like to know what age you were when you first started writing, and are some of your characters based on people you know in real life. Thank you from Abbie (12).
Letter AJacqueline: Hello Abbie at gumsnroses. I started writing very small stories at six and seven. I make up all my characters (though obviously my two autobiographical books, Jacky Daydream, and My Secret Diary are about real people).
 

Letter QQOD: More of a statement than a question - Jacqueline, my 10-year-old old daughter had not read a book before from choice. She would read a couple of pages of her school reader under duress. She then received the Tracy Beaker trilogy for Christmas and read it voraciously. She has since read two more of your books and five other random books. Thanks! Whatever you are doing, you are getting it right!
Letter AJacqueline: I am so pleased that your daughter enjoys reading now. It means so much to me to help introduce another child to the joys of reading! I try hard to make my books very easy to read, even though they might be about complex matters. The print on the page is clear, and Nick Sharratt's delightful illustrations help add interest to the page.
QOD: Thanks for answering my mum. Can you tell me why all your books are about girls with problems please? from Jasmin (I'm 10)
Jacqueline: I LIKE writing about girls with problems - it's as simple as that! Interesting idea, I'll think about it.
 

Letter QTheButterflyEffect: My daughter loves your books. She was hoping to see you last year at the Edinburgh Book Festival and would like to know if there will be any opportunities to see you speak in the future.
Letter AJacqueline: I was devastated when I had to cancel the Edinburgh Festival last summer, along with several other major festivals. This was because I was diagnosed with heart failure and had not long been out of hospital after an operation. I am feeling much better now, though I can't do quite as much - but will definitely be at the Edinburgh Festival this year, and hope to meet up with your daughter then.
TheButterflyEffect: Thanks for replying. My daughter will now ask me every other day to check the Book Festival website, but that is a good thing. She's saying she's sorry you were ill, and hopes you feel better now, and is hoping you don't feel bad about having to look after yourself. I think the mad stalkers and huge queues for book signings with everyone lugging 8 books a piece would give most authors heart failure.
 

Letter QPollyanna: My dd1 (aged 8) has the following question: when you were young what did you think were going to be when you were older? ds1 (aged 10) would like to know where you get your ideas from? I would like to know whether, in your opinion, an eight year old can read all of your books. I must confess to not letting her read some as I think the subject matter is too "real" for her (she can read very well, but in my view her reading age is way above her emotional age).
Letter AJacqueline: Please tell your daughter I wanted to be a writer from when I was six years old. I don't really know where I get my ideas from, they just seem to pop into my head. I feel some of my books might be a little disturbing for most eight year olds but it's very hard to generalise. I think Love Lessons and Kiss, for instance, are definitely for teenagers.
 

Letter QEffiePerine: Do you ever get depressed when people (ie parents) disapprove of your books? Or are you secretly pleased?

Letter AJacquelineWilson: I get a little upset if people don't like my books, but I know I can't please everyone.

EffiePerine: Well I think it's a good thing that your books provoke strong responses. Always helpful for teens to have (good) books to read that their parents disapprove of. Oh and welcome! We're very pleased to have you (as you may have gathered).
 

Letter Qmum2JEG: Hi Jacqueline. I love your books. right now I am on Girls in Tears . I was wondering if you have any books which you keep to yourself? Please can you tell me if you are writing any new books and why do you have rings on every finger? How old are you? I love to go horse riding and can jump, tack up, untack, groom and gallop. I want to be a vet but if I can't be a vet, as I am not very good at maths, then I would like to be a writer like you. The things you write about are interesting and relevant to children's lives; my parents divorced and I have a half sister and so my life is not simple but I am happy and things always work out. I am studying hard to get into a brilliant boarding school - reading your books helps me with my English and is fun. Please write back. Eleanor PS I am allowed to stay up only because you are having this webchat.
Letter AJacquelineWilson: I'm glad Eleanor likes reading my books. You will find there are references to other authors in most of my stories; in fact in Starring Tracy Beaker, Tracy is given ten paperback children's classics for her Christmas present. There's also a book about me, called Totally Jacqueline Wilson where I give a list of all my favourite children's books - too little room or time here! Eleanor - I'm glad you've been allowed to stay up to write to me. I used to write little stories just for my daughter when she was small: these have never been published, they were just for us. I have a new book just out called My Secret Diary, about me at §4, and I've recently finished a Victorian book called Hetty Feather, which I'm very excited about! I love wearing lots of rings. I'm 63. Oh gosh, that sounds incredibly ancient.
 

Letter Qkeevamum: My DD is a massive fan. She is eight years old and we have met you in a Basildon school once as well as recntly at a book signing in Maidstone. My DD has read all of your books and her greatest dream is to become a writer. Do you have any advice to a young child on how best to get involved in writing? She has put forward her idea to her school for a school newspaper but they haven't been too keen to help her get one started...are there any other ideas she can pursue? Once my DD is older do you recommend a degree in journalism or more practical experience?
Letter AJacquelineWilson: It's great that your daughter is so keen to be a writer. I would encourage her just to write for fun at the moment. I was speaking to a journalist today, and we were both talking nostalgically about the stories we wrote as little girls. When you're an adult professional writer, you never have the opportunity to write completely unselfconsciously, you always have to remember your audience.


Letter Qmagsnags: Today my children's school had the author/actor Dennis Bond visiting and giving a talk, he told the children he was a great admirer of yours. It must make you feel immensly proud that you are admired not only by by generations of readers but by your peers as well?
Letter AJacquelineWilson: It was very kind of Dennis to say nice things about me. The children's book world is a very friendly, supportive group.
 

Letter QAddisonMontgomerySheppard: Hi Jacqueline, What do you make of the fact that you've been referred to as the UK's Judy Blume?

Letter AJacquelineWilson: Dear AddisonMontgomerySheppard - your name is longer than your question! I don't mind being called the UK's Judy Blume, though I don't think our books are necessarily similar.
 

Letter QDozymare: Where do you take your inspiration from, and what are you reading at the moment?

Letter AJacquelineWilson: I'm not sure where I get my inspiration from, anywhere and everywhere! I'm currently reading Mr Toppit by Charles Elton, an adult literary novel about a children's author. Before that, I was mostly reading Victorian books for research. I enjoyed George Gissing, though he had a very weird outlook on women. I also loved The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michel Faber - but took care not to read it on the train because a/ it weighs a ton, and b/ it's very explicit!
 

Letter QConstantlycooking: Hi, just wanted to say I saw you at a book signing in North London and was very impressed with the way you chatted to each child - they all looked relaxed and must have felt that they had really met you. My son (an avid reader) loves your books and they helped him through problems at school (he has ADHD). Many thanks.
Letter AJacquelineWilson: Thanks for your lovely remarks. It's always very hard to get the right balance at book signings. If there's a very long queue the families at the back can get very impatient and want me to hurry things up, but I also want to make every child feel that we've had a little conversation together. It does a mean a lot to me when I get to meet my readers. Say hi to your son for me - it's great he's a keen reader.
 

Letter Qpointydog: Jacqueline, do you have any say about how your books are marketed, in terms of some of them looking very girly on the front cover?

Letter AJacquelineWilson: I'm afraid I don't have that much say about the way my books are marketed. I agree that they do sometimes look very girly though Nick Sharratt's illustrations are always superb.

Encouraging children to read

Letter Qroisin: Hi Jacqueline! Reading, and encouraging children/young people to read, is my passion. I run two popular and successful reading clubs at secondary school, and constantly try and raise the profile of reading for pleasure. But students regularly get teased for coming to reading club or even admitting to being keen readers! It's such a shame. Do you think it's possible to make reading 'cool' amongst teenagers? Most of my keenest readers are boys, rather than girls. Over-generalisation, but the girls tend to want to stick with one genre or even one author (guess who?) and are less willing to branch out and try something new. Why do you think this is?
Letter AJacqueline: Good for you with the reading clubs! I know some girls get a bit 'locked-on' reading one particular author. I can't help being glad when it's me! However, I make frequent reference to other authors in my books and try to encourage some branching out.
 

Letter QStarbear: If books are then televised, do you think children would then not bother reading the book? Do you think councils should design and maintain children's libraries with better buildings and resources than adults library? Our local is being renovated but I fear it will just be a lick of paint.
Letter AJacqueline: I think television adaptations frequently encourage children (and adults) to read the book. I wish libraries weren't so strapped for cash. So many great and dedicated children's librarians have been shunted out of their jobs, and the world is a poorer place.
 

Letter Qmagsnags: I just want to thankyou for the personalised message you kindly wrote to my daughter Abigail in the book Cookie - it was the highlight of her Christmas, in particular the kind comments you wrote about her own efforts at writing. Small things like this from someone like yourself mean so much to youngsters and can make a real difference in their lives. She was 10 last Tuesday and had a sleepover on Friday and the four of them were up very late discussing your books!
Letter AJacqueline: I'm so glad Abigail liked her book, and is enjoying writing!

 

Letter QLittleSarah: Hi Jacqueline, great books, I shall be introducing my daughter to them soon! I wonder if you could tell me what you think could be done to encourage reading (especially for those who maybe find it a struggle) and a love of reading? (Is it good to read a lot and so on.) And, if you think reading (for pleasure) is important and if so why? Thanks!
Letter AJacquelineWilson: I think the best way to encourage reading is to read aloud to children, way past the age when they can read for themselves.
 

Letter QPinkFairyDust: I just wanted to say that your books got me into reading when i was little - and now I have such a passion for reading - I love it! One of my charges disliked reading and would avoid it but I brought her in all of my books (which are very thumbed though!!!) which you wrote, and she has loved them and we always talk about them too - so I say a big thank you for the both of us!
Letter AJacquelineWilson: Hi PinkFairyDust - wonderful nickname. Thank you so much for sharing your books, I'm glad they helped.
PinkFairyDust: Just remembered - I saw Sound of Music on the opening night in London - and I saw you getting the tube - but I was to shy to speak to you so my grother spoke to you and you signed my leaflet from Sound of Music. It will be something to show my charge tomorrow, she will like that.

Personal

Letter Qcocolepew: I want to know where does Jacqueline get her rings from, and was the magazine Jackie really named after her? DD is a big fan.

Letter AJacqueline: I'm so glad you like my rings - they all come from a wonderful shop called The Great Frog in Ganton St in the West End.
 

Letter QRoseOfTheOrient: My DD, Maya, (11) loves your books - she reads them in Japanese, and I read the English versions to her. Her absolute favourite is Lola Rose (waves to iamnotimpressed's DD). Her question for Jacqueline is: "If you won the lottery (like in Lola Rose), what would you spend the money on?"
Letter AJacqueline: I am so glad Maya likes Lola Rose. I wonder if she has found any difference between the English and Japanese versions - not something I can check! I have a lovely translator there though, called Yumiko Kikawe. If I won the lottery I'd be tempted to fund our children's libraries. So much money seems to go into IT now, rather than actual books.
 

Letter Qnametaken: Hi Jacqueline, my dd Isobel, aged 11, wants me to ask you which of your novels is the favourite?

Letter AJacquelineWilson: Tell Isobel that The illustrated Mum is my favourite book at the moment, but I might change my mind when Hetty Feather is published in October!
 

Letter Qahundredtimes: DS2's question: Dear Jacqueline Wilson, do children ever write and ask you to adopt them? Like children in a home or something?

Letter AJacquelineWilson: I haven't had a child asking to be adopted themselves, but I did once have a social worker tentatively suggesting I might be able to offer a home to a twelve year old girl. I was very touched, but knew I couldn't make that permanent commitment. I so admire those who do.
ahundredtimes: Thank you for answering, I will tell my son your answer. He may very well write to you and suggest he move in next week - ignore it, he does not live in a children's home, and is quite happy here (I think) but possibly has his eye on better things!
 

Letter Qsundew: Dear Jacqueline, My daughter (Jasmine - 8yo) is MASSIVELY into your books and just devours them! She would like to know if you were good at literacy at school! She also wanted you to know how much she loves your books!
Letter AJacquelineWilson: Dear sundew and Jasmine, we called literacy 'English' when I was at school - and I was good at it. Just as well, because I was useless at maths and absolutely rubbish at games.
sundew: Thank you very much Jacqueline - Jasmine will be thrilled when she wakes up tommorow. She has just finished Midnight so I imagine we will be off to the library this weekend to try and find one of your books she hasn't read. I hope you keep in good health and write many more books to fire childrens love of reading. It really is a most amazing skill you have.
 

Letter Qabouteve: Jacqueline, lol at your young 14-year-old self. DD has read your secret diary. I'm pleased that at nearly 15 she is still swopping books and not boys!! (Although she is wise beyond her years in many other ways.) What's your advice in not rushing into growing up too quickly?
Letter AJacquelineWilson: Your daughter sounds lovely. In the past I've tried to suggest it's not a good idea for kids to grow up too early - and I was shot down in flames in the press.
 

Letter QBigpants1: My younger sister Millie would like to ask you how many brothers and sisters you have?

Letter AJacqueline: I haven't ANY brothers or sisters. I wish I wasn't an only child!

Last updated: 11-Mar-2009 at 12:32 PM