WILSON, Jacqueline Diamond Doubleday, 2013 295pp NZ$34.99 pbk ISBN 9780857531087 SCIS 1633284
It’s one thing to run away to the circus, but quite another to be sold to a wicked master for five guineas by your penniless father. Young Ellen-Jane Potts, petite and nimble, suffers tragedy along with her family when her mother dies giving birth to the long-hoped for final son who was to complete the set of angelic sons (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). The family is scattered, and Ellen finds herself transformed into the aerobatic Diamond of Tanglefield’s Travelling Circus, abandoned by her father, but adored by the public. Here she encounters life in its many guises, cruelties alongside kindnesses. Change comes through time, bringing both the good, in the form of Hetty Feather (one of Wilson’s best-loved characters) and the bad. Will Ellen-Jane/Diamond ever be reunited with her family, and what does the future hold for her and Hetty?
Jacqueline Wilson is well known for her inclusion of strong female characters facing real-life issues. This story is no exception. Modern-day children are gently introduced to the all too common situations of parental loss through childbirth, the separation of siblings, and of responsibilities, expectations and changed circumstances thrust on impoverished children at a tender age, faced by their Victorian counterparts. The lively and direct language, together with a strong storyline, will engage young readers and delight Hetty Feather fans. Recommended. SB