25 Apr 2010


The second book read for the TYPICALLY BRITISH Reading Challenge 2010 - I've already reached 'Put The Kettle on' Level. To see the first book reviewed for this challenge (The Double Eagle by James Twining) click HERE.

HETTY FEATHER by JACQUELINE WILSON. Hetty Feather is just a tiny baby when her desperate mother leaves her at the Foundling Hospital. The hospital cares for many such children - but Hetty must first live with a foster family until she is big enough to go to school.

Hetty is poor but happy living in the countryside with her 'brother's', Jem and Gideon. She helps in the fields and plays vivid imaginary games. The children sneak off to visit the travelling circus and Hetty is mesmerized by the show, especially Madam Adeline and her performing horses.

But Hetty's happiness is threatened once more when she is returned to the Foundling Hospital. The new ultra-strict regime is a struggle foe her. But on the day of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, Hetty gets the chance to see Madam Adeline again - and maybe find her real mother.

...... From the inner front cover.

FIRST SENTENCE: My name is Hetty Feather.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: "You're a little whatsit," said poor Jem, giving my arm a shake. "Why won't you ever see reason, Hetty? "I try so hard to please you but it's never enough."

I know that strictly speaking Hetty Feather was written with a much younger target audience in mind BUT given that it was so highly rated by Niece #2 (11) and that so many books targeted at a younger age group can, and are, happily read by the more 'mature' reader I thought I'd give it a try anyway.

To be honest I'd heard such a lot about this author - mainly good from children and bad from their parents - that being objective was quite difficult try as I might.

So what were my first impressions? 'What a gaudy front cover' - primarily bright reds, blues and yellows with it's childlike illustrations, it was not exactly designed with any other than children in mind. However that said, and remembering its targeted age range, I thought it's large, clear print was ideal though at just under 400 pages it could be a little too long for the younger reader.

Totally disappointed from start to finish, I found the writing itself to be of a rather poor quality and as for the characters? Don't begin to get me started on what I thought of, main character, Hetty. Thoroughly awful, I found that, despite all the hardship and punishment meted out to her, I just couldn't like or, even, empathise with her. A truly spoilt individual, if she is an example of the kind of children Wilson portrays (and I'm led to believe it is) then I can well understand why many parents don't like her books.

Perhaps a bad choice of book as an introduction to the works of Jacqueline Wilson, I'm determined to read more if only to try and discover just what all the fuss is about and perhaps find out the 'truth' about her characters.

Hetty Feather was borrowed from a family member.


Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

I need to check them out.
As I'm an Anglophile thanks immensely.

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

I'd like to introduce you to a really nice blog of a friend. If you get a chance could you please email me so I will email you back.

brizmus said...

This looks and sounds immensely British!

Kissed by an Angel said...

Thanks for sharing!!

Kelly said...

I'm not familiar with this author. Although I don't mind reading "youth" books, I think I'll pass on this based on your review.

I, too, have two books under my belt for this challenge! I think I'm going for six.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

I haven't read a book with a cover like that since the first grade. Sorry it was a disappointment. :(

Myne Whitman said...

Funny cover, British books are not usually the best.

Jenners said...

Interesting ... loved by children but not by grown-ups. : )

tattytiara said...

It is so painful to chew through a book when you can't stand the lead character, isn't it?

themethatisme said...

"British books are not usually the best." Bit of a sweeping statement.

GMR said...

Oooh...now that was a rather scathing review...sad to hear it too as from the synopsis, it reminded me of the Lemony Snicket series (Unfortunate Events). Although, the series ending was rather a let down there as well...hmmm...

Dorte H said...

I think her name sounds familiar, but I have certainly not read this book (I won´t, either).

I think it was a good idea to try it, however. Really good children´s books are a pleasure, also when you are an adult reader. I loved reading e.g. Astrid Lindgren´s stories to my children, and I grabbed the Harry Potter books after my daughters had read them.

Anonymous said...

I'm in my early teens, and was about 11 when this book came out. At the time I was enchanted by Hetty Feather - I strongly identified with Jem as well as Hetty. I decided to critically read it for the first time in two years yesterday, which I did within an hour and a half or so. I kind of agree with you. I still enjoyed it, and still identified with Jem and Hetty. However, it is written in a stumbling manner and is quite difficult in some places to break through the plot and get to a new chapter or new part of the book. However, please take into account that it is written from the point of view of a 10 year old (despite being written by a 70 year old (ish) woman) and is for 10 year old children.