Finding books that are similar to Jacqueline Wilson has been a project for me. I have a group of year 6 girls who love JW and are desperate for read alikes. These students love realistic fiction with plenty of family, friendship and relationship drama. My library collection was sorely lacking in complete sets of alternative series or collections by similar authors to offer these girls. I will be posting about the authors and series I have now sourced, have read and can heartily recommend:
Kate Maryon: I literally stumbled across Kate’s first book Shine at 3.30am one morning when I was unable to sleep and had finished the ebook I was currently reading on my iPad. (I find reading in the night helps me sleep and being able to switch the text to white on a black background with the brightness turned right down, means I don’t disturb my husband!) I was scrolling through the suggested reads in the Kindle Store and saw the cover which had instant impact. I downloaded the story, started to read and was immediately hooked.
“Kate Maryon writes books about ordinary girls, like you, who find themselves facing extraordinary, real life situations. She hopes her characters will take you on a journey, a kind of exploration, so you’ll end up thinking, what would my life be like if this thing happened to me? Age Range: 9-12” Source: Girls heart books [blog]
Kate’s books cover some gritty and heartwrenching topics, but this seems to be what my readers are looking for. In many cases they are looking for stories about girls whose lives are sharply different to their own, but where they feel some empathy with the characters. There is always the chance, that for a few readers, they might be looking for their own experiences in a book.
I found Shine heartwrenching and real. I have all 4 books below and can’t wait to get them onto shelves and into hands! These are perfect for readers in the 9-12 age range.
Shine by Kate Maryon. Published by HarperCollins 2010.
From Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Tiff loves her mom, Carla, who is glitzy and fun and always coming home with shiny new amazing stuff. The trouble is, Tiff’s mom doesn’t buy things, she takes them. The fact is, Tiff’s mom is a thief. When Carla gets caught, Tiff’s shiny life is ruined. She’s packed off to a remote island to live with Carla’s family. A family her mom never even talks about and that Tiff has never even met! How can she survive in this dull, dull place? But the island of Sark isn’t as awful as Tiff imagined it would be. The islanders are kind and honest and she’s happy spending time with them. So three months later, when it’s finally time for her mom to join her, Tiff can’t help feeling more than a little bit worried.
A million Angels by Kate Maryon. Published by HarperCollins, 2011.
From Goodreads: DAD GOES TO WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, JEMIMA HAS BATTLES OF HER OWN
“We talk about everything, Dad and me. About all the mysteries inside of us. About all our wonderings of the world. But tomorrow my dad goes to war. Then what will I do?”
Jemima’s dad’s in the Army and he’s off to Afghanistan again for six whole months. Her mum’s about to have another baby and hasn’t got the energy to worry about anything else. Granny is staying to help out, but her head is filled with her own wartime memories. So while Mima is sending Dad millions of angels every night to keep him safe, who is looking out for her?
Glitter by Kate Maryon. Published by HarperCollins, 2011.
From Goodreads: CREDIT CRUNCH THROWS LIBERTY PARFITT’S WORLD UPSIDE DOWN
Taken away from the boarding school she loves, Liberty and her angry dad are forced to stay in a friend’s flat in a rough part of London where she finds herself in a school that’s locally known as ‘The Grave.’ Without her best friend’s violin to play, Liberty feels as if her life couldn’t get any worse; then there’s the nasty Tyler boy and her dad’s depression and the gang by the canal… If only she had a mum, then things might be better – and what actually did happen to her mum? Well, there are the trunks in Dad’s bedroom and the violin on the bed and, once her curiosity is sparked, Liberty discovers a whole lot more about her past than she ever could have imagined.
A sea of stars by Kate Maryon. Published by HarperCollins, 2012.
From Goodreads: Meet Maya. She has a cosy, comfy life with her slightly hippy mum and dad by the sea in Cornwall. But as an only child, Maya feels smothered by her parents’ love and longs to be a given more freedom and independence; but what Maya wants more than anything is a sister.
Meet Cat. She’s never known her dad and her mum’s an alcoholic and is not capable of looking after herself, let alone her 11 year old daughter. Cat’s spent her life protecting her mum and keeping some dark secrets; all she wants is to be left alone.
But Cat and Maya’s worlds collide when Cat is taken into care and Maya’s parents make the life-changing decision to adopt her. Maya can’t wait to welcome Cat into the family and hopes that by having a sister, her parents might learn to ‘chill out’ and give Maya a bit more freedom. But Cat is angry and resentful and resists Maya’s attempts at friendship and soon Maya’s idea of a perfect family is blown out of the water.
As tensions rise and secrets come out, will the girls ever become friends, let alone sisters?
Invisible girl by Kate Maryon. Forthcoming – Due to be published by HarperCollins, June 2013.
“I was inspired to write Invisible Girl after reading an article about runaways by Andy McCullough from the Railway Children charity. I was so shocked to discover that every 5 minutes a child in the UK runs away from home, which equals 100,000 under 16’s sleeping rough on our streets each year, that I immediately called Railway Children and spoke to Andy. He confirmed the statistics, went on to tell me about his own experience of being a young runaway and offered himself as a resource for my book.
I wanted Invisible Girl to feel real, to show how easily children can slip through the cracks, unnoticed. How readily, when love is unavailable at home, they will seek it elsewhere, walking into dangerous situations leaving themselves wide open and vulnerable.
As well as to entertain, my wish for Invisible Girl, and all my books, is that it speaks to the children who, like me when I was small, find themselves standing in the shadows facing overwhelming difficulty without support. I hope to hold their hands whilst pointing them toward safety, toward getting the help they need and developing a toolkit for self-care. I want to speak to the loved children too, to inspire compassion and understanding, an appreciation for what they have.
Our streets will continue to make cold hard beds until we can end this sleepy cycle of poverty and abuse that turns runaway children into homeless adults. Against all odds, both Andy and I managed to climb out of our childhood difficulty and create healthy adult lives. Sadly, we are the exception to the rule.” source: Author website.
- Author website: http://katemaryon.co.uk (This is a fantastic website – full of resources: extracts from the books, video, images, quotes etc)
- Author blogging with other women writers who write for girls: http://girlsheartbooks.com – this blog is aimed at age 8-14 readers and is worth following if you are interested in hearing about the latest writing from authors like Joanna Nadin, Sophia Bennett, Kate Maryon, Frances Hardinge, S.C. Ransom and many, many more excellent writers!)