Maeve Visser Knoth: The Illustrated Mum

Guest Book - Please let me know who you are or ask a question (Click here)!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Illustrated Mum

This morning I finished reading The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson. The book is not new- it was first published in Britain in 1999 but the first American edition came out in 2005. In any case, it is new to me. Another children's librarian recommended it at a book discussion meeting and I was intrigued. The book is about a ten-year-old child named Dolphin who, with her older sister Star, lives with a mother who suffers from manic depression. The girls' mother, Marigold, is loving, imaginative and artistic. She designs special tattoos that cover most of her skin and wears unusual, showy clothing. Dolphin and Star live in fear of the times Marigold falls apart, drinks heavily and ceases to manage even the smallest aspects of their life.

As I was reading, I was very affected by the descriptions of what life has been like for Star and Dolphin. Everything that I think is fundamental to family life has been missing from theirs. They have moved endlessly, sometimes sneaking out in the night. The girls have been to so many schools they can't keep track of them all. When Marigold provides the girls with something to eat, the meals don't have any relationship to the recommended food pyramid. In spite of her many many failings, Marigold is not a villain. Somehow Jacqueline Wilson makes Marigold sympathetic even as the reader is rooting for the girls to get out of her care.

I'm not sure what I would have thought of this book had I first read it as a child. The life Dolphin and Star lead is frightening but the ending is happy enough to have satisfied the 12-year-old that I once was. I would give this to a reader who likes sad books.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home