By Joanna Shaw
Opal Plumstead is Jacqueline Wilson’s 100th published novel, as this is such an amazing achievement I felt obliged to celebrate Wilson’s award winning achievements.
Opal Plumstead, a young teenage girl growing up in Edwardian England in the midst of the Suffragette movement is forced to leave school and sent to work at the Fairy Glenn sweet factory after her father is imprisoned. Missing her only friend, her scholarship education and having to earn a wage to help her mother and sister Cassie, Opal struggles to fit in at Fairy Glenn; until she meets Morgan Roberts, the factory owner’s son. But with the threat of the Great War looming, can Opal and Morgan be together?
From my memories of reading such favourites like The Illustrated Mum, Tracy Beaker and Lola Rose as a child, Opal Plumstead certainly fits in with the whimsical imagination of childhood. Wilson is repeatedly praised for tackling domestic and social issues in a way children can understand, such as mental health issues in The Illustrated Mum and the concept of the broken family. Opal Plumstead also contains historical references to the rights of women and World War One; it also demonstrates the divisions of class in the Edwardian era and the representation of women searching for a husband to support their families. The beautiful illustrations by Wilson’s illustrator of choice (Nick Sharratt) these simple sketches are the trademark of Wilson’s book covers and they give the reader a vision of the characters and settings that are described in the novel.
Opal as a character is surprisingly mature for her age, but she still embodies traits of creativity and mild naivety that is typical of many of Wilson’s characters. Overall I believe that Opal Plumstead deserves a space in the highly acclaimed line of Jacqueline Wilson’s outstanding children’s books and I will certainly be re-reading my favourites from this wonderful author.
I give it 4 out of 5.