It’s been 1991 since Jacqueline Wilson releases her book The Story of Tracy Beaker.
It was a book about a 1o-year-old girl in a care home who was feisty, funny and fearless. It later became a very popular TV show starring Dani Harmer as Beaker.
Jacqueline Wilson has now announced a brand new book in the Tracey Beaker series. The called My Mum Tracy Beaker is due out in October.
It will be 480 pages long and illustrated by Nick Sharratt who worked on the original books. It is based on the original character who is grown up now and has a 9-year-old daughter. They live in a rough housing estate in modern-day London
In an interview with the Observer Wilson said she came up with the idea after seeing mothers clutching copies of The Story of Tracy Beaker they had read as 10-year-olds, and now encouraging their own daughters to read it. “It’s stimulating to think about how people develop as they get older,” she said. “Tracy has been a character that’s haunted me. She’s the sort of person who sticks in your mind.
“When I realised just how long ago it was since I wrote the first Tracy Beaker book, I thought: if we were in real time, Tracy herself would be in her 30s. And I’ve always thought that, even though Tracy had lots of problems in her life and a pretty rubbish mum who was never there for her, Tracy herself would be a good mum, no matter what.”
The book is told in the voice of Tracy’s daughter, Jess, and is aimed at both 7-11-year-olds and possibly even adults and teenagers who enjoyed the Tracy Beaker series as children. “A knowing teenager or an adult will read something and understand it, while it will go straight over Jess’s head.”
She wanted the sequel to be realistic: “How many young women without much education earn enough, with a daughter, to be able to buy their own home in London today? Being Tracy, she wants to be independent, but with a child, how can she be? So she’s having to scratch around.”
The fact that Jess has never suffered the rejection and heartbreak that Tracy came across as a child is a key theme of the book. “With Tracy, you get all this mouthiness, all this cheek, all this rushing around seemingly not being scared – but inside, even as an adult, there are a lot of insecurities. Jess herself is much quieter, more timid and worried about what other people think of her. But, inside, she’s more confident, and I think more of an adult than Tracy is.”
This is set to be Wilsons 108th book. “Nick is waiting to illustrate it, and the editors at Puffin are saying: let’s poke the old girl a bit.” She laughs. “It will get done in time. It’s been great fun.”
Sharratt has naturally been begging her to tell him what will happen to Tracy. “I said no, not yet, because I don’t know for certain myself. And he said: but I do hope you’re giving Tracy a happy ending and that everything’s going to work out well for her.”
Is it? She wriggles. “I don’t want an ‘absolutely everything is quite wonderful’ ending – after all, at the start of the first book Tracy herself says life isn’t a fairy story where everyone lives happily ever after. I’m dealing with adults leading adult lives, and I want to be truthful to all that.”
She pauses dramatically. “But she is my lucky character … and I have a soft spot for her too.” The next thing she says is: “She’s going to get her happy ending.”