Mandy is delighted when Tanya picks her as a new friend, after being bulled at school for as long as she can remember. Mandy’s mum isn’t impressed, she thinks that Tanya is a ‘bad girl’. Mandy loves spending time with her new friend and doesn’t think Tanya is a bad influence, but is she right?
I really enjoyed reading this, I’ve loved Jacqueline Wilson books since I was a child and reading it brought back many memories of reading her books. Wilson has a way of connecting with her young readers and getting into their emotions and feelings easily. Her writing has a child-like element/style to it that works perfectly for her audience and the type of books she writes.
The book covers some quite challenging topics, such as bullying, the care system and suicide. I would highly advise reading this book yourself before you share it with children and knowing the child well as some may struggle with some of the issues in the book. This will also make Mandy and Tanya relatable characters for many children, as they may have faced similar issues to the characters. It is so important that children are represented in books and see themselves.
The book was easy to read with fairly simple vocabulary used making it accessible for all readers. The plot was also easy to follow, it was quite simple and linear and didn’t jump all over the place so it was easy to follow along, which will help younger readers to engage and follow the story and understand what is happening.
I had one issue with the book and this was the stereotype that children in care are ‘naughty’ and commit crimes. I think it paints children in care in a negative light and can be very far from the truth in some cases. If this is some children’s only encounter with children within the care system, it may influence them to develop negative stereotypes of this group and lead to issues down the line.