Thursday, 10 February 2011

Lily Alone by Jacqueline Wilson

Title: Lily Alone
Author: Jacqueline Wilson
Published by: Random House
Publication date: 3rd February 2011
Pages: 320
Genres: Children's/Family
Format: Hardback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

How to look after my brother and sisters

1. Make sure they eat three meals a day - and not just ice cream!
2. Keep clothes not too mucky!
3. Everyone must go to bed before midnight, especially Pixie!
4. Don't let them go to school in case they give away our secret.
5. Keep everyone safe till Mum comes back...

Lily isn't home ALONE - but she sort of wishes she was; looking after her three younger siblings is a lot of responsibility.

When Mum goes off on holiday with her new boyfriend and her stepdad fails to show up, Lily is determined to keep the family together and show they can cope without any grown-ups. But taking care of 6-year-old twins, her 3-year-old sister and the family's flat feels overwhelming and Lily is worried that school or social services might discover their situation and break up the family. What could be better than to take all the little ones for a camping adventure in the park? Plenty of space to run about, no carpet to vacuum, and surely no chance anyone will guess they're there . . .

This (amazing) novel is about an eleven year old girl called Lily. Her Mum seems to have depression, so Lily has to look after her younger siblings Bliss, Baxter and Pixie quite a lot. Lily feels very alone, but sometimes she prefers that.

Lily Alone really moved me. It was so emotional and when Lily and her brother and sisters went through all the troubles and trauma, you could just tell that the words had been well thought of, and the whole story in general just fitted together really well. It definitely isn't the most original novel Jacqueline has written, but it was definitely the best. And I know that whenever I review her books, I say 'it's the best' but this time I'm telling the absolute truth; Jacqueline's books just get better and better every time.

My favourite character was Bliss, Lily's sister. She was so sweet and cute, and she was very caring. My least favourite character was Mr Abbott, Lily's teacher. Lily says she loves him, but to me he just seems like a horrible man who has nothing better to do than poke around in other peoples lives!

I recommend this fabulous novel to readers aged 9-16, and give it 5/5. This really is an incredibly moving story that stays with the reader long after the final page is turned. 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Sequins, Stars and Spotlights Blog Tour: Guest post by Sophia Bennett

Hellooo my wonderful readers! I've got a big treat for you today...Sophia Bennett has written a guest post for the blog as part of her Sequins, Stars and Spotlights blog tour!! Yay! This is the 5th stop on her blog tour, and guess what? Today is also the day that Sequins, Stars and Spotlights comes out in the shops, so get over to your local bookshop now and buy a copy! Pleeease? You won't regret it! :) Meanwhile, though, Sophia Bennett has written an awesome guest post on her favourite scenes from her fabulous books...


My top 5 favourite scenes across the series 

These are some of my favourite scenes. I couldn’t possibly include them all. But I hope they give a flavour of what I enjoy writing … 

Edie and Jenny argue about fashion vs saving the world 

I love it when my characters argue. I know it sounds mean, but their grumpiness always highlights what’s sweet about them, as well as their weaknesses and flaws. In Threads, Jenny loves her new-found fame, and ability to do good by visiting children’s hospital wards in Louboutins. It makes Edie sick. Especially when her blog posts about Jenny’s shoes get more hits than her posts about raising awareness for African issues. Poor Edie. But although she doesn’t know it yet, the seeds of what she’s going to do to make the catwalk show so special are here. I love it when my characters don’t know what’s really happening either! 

The catwalk show at the end of Threads 

This is an obvious one to choose, and it still makes me cry. I was shocked when I first heard it had made someone else cry, though – especially when that person was the head of my publishers in America. Now I’m slightly disappointed if it doesn’t have that effect. I can’t tell you how hard I worked, or how many drafts it took to set it up that way.  

I love the way this scene includes lots of my favourite themes – doing something together, creating a show, making something magical happen by sheer hard work and talent, and yes, at the end, saving the world. Just one little, tiny piece of it, but a very precious piece. This is when Crow finally shows what she’s made of, and just how emotional she can be when it really matters. Which is very! 

The cricket match in Beads, Boys and Bangles 

I love the cricket scene because it’s where the girls from England (and boy) meet the children from India they’ve come to save. It’s based around a cricket match because my brother played exactly such a match with street kids in Mumbai and suggested the idea to me. I even copied the packing-tape ball. 

Sanjay, with his close friendship with Walt Disney, is a favourite character of mine. And Nonie gradually discovers that she can protect someone. Normally, she feels very vulnerable, but here she turns into a mummy tiger. 

The Miss Teen negotiations in Beads, Boys and Bangles 

There are two big boardroom scenes in the second book – one early on, when Edie’s blog becomes a problem for the bigwigs at Miss Teen, and one near the end, when the girls decide to do whatever they can to stop child exploitation for the sake of fashion.  

In the first scene, I knew that Nonie was going to get into trouble, but not how she was going to get out of it. When Crow took charge, I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with her. I love it when my characters surprise me.  

In the second scene, Crow’s willing to give up the use of her own name on the clothes she designs, if that’s what it takes. My characters have girl power and really do change the world by sticking up for each other and doing what they believe in. Consider them frilly or fluffy at your peril. 

I was shocked when I read about two famous designers – Jimmy Choo and Roland Mouret – who lost the right to their own names. It happens in fashion. Of course, this scene ends slightly differently …  

Jenny’s first night party in Sequins, Stars and Spotlights 

In the new book, there are so many scenes to choose from. The Dior show; the meeting with Joan Burstein, who founded Browns boutique; the day Nonie comes face to face with Liam in Starbucks while wearing a fringed tablecloth and a bicycle belt (see the sneak peek on this blog tour); the trip to New York; Nonie explaining the reason she’s never been very self-confident; the final scene when THAT GIRL ends up with her head on THAT BOY’s shoulder …  

But the scene I’ve chosen is actually very short. It’s Nonie describing Jenny’s first night party after her new musical opens in Chicago. Nonie wasn’t there, and she’s very worried about Jenny – because things have gone wrong for Jenny in the past and she always worries. This time, when she reads about the party on the Internet. she’s more stunned than ever. 

It was very a enjoyable scene to write, and features guest appearances by Elton John and Alicia Keys. Or, as Nonie would put it ELTON JOHN and ALICIA KEYS. I was listening to ‘Empire State of Mind’ as I wrote and I had a wonderful time with this one.  

Yet again, the girls aren’t really listening to each other. From that point of view, I base them on myself and … anyone who tries to have a conversation with me while I’m thinking about a book. My poor children. Oh dear.

Thanks, Sophia!! :) I hope you enjoyed that everyone. The next stop on the blog tour is at Writing From the Tub tomorrow, where there will be an interview with Sophia. Enjoy!