Jacqueline Wilson is one of the most popular children's authors in the world, and having read Hetty Feather, I can see why.
Hetty is a Foundling - left at the Foundling Hospital in London by her mother. As Hetty grows up, she discovers her headstrong ways and big personality don't always fit in, but she doesn't care, no one is going to stop Hetty Feather.
Wilson's tale features a fabulous protagonist who is clever, brave and kind, and knows what's right and isn't afraid to stand up for herself, or others.
Hetty's tale begins as she is left at the Foundling Hospital, and then taken on the train to the countryside, where she grows up with a foster family. There, she forms a close bond with Jem, one of her foster parents' real children, and Gideon, her Foundling brother. The realisation that she will one day go back to the Foundling Hospital tinges Hetty's experience with sadness, but there's plenty of drama for the young girl too.
Once back in London, Hetty can't help but get into mischief, whether it's because she's fighting with other girls at the Foundling Hospital, or trying to find her real mother.
Told in first person, Hetty's voice is quickly relatable - the book might be set in the 1800s but many of Hetty's feelings (loneliness, uncertainty, a desire to belong) are feelings that many young girls reading Wilson's work will feel as they make the transfer from one new school to another.
Hetty Feather does deal with dark issues - first experiences of death, the sinister nature of strangers, old age - but it does so deftly. There is no danger of young readers being scared off, rather, Wilson chooses to introduce most of the darker episodes in the book in a way that will inform and perhaps spark a conversation with adults in the reader's life.
A heroine who I'd be happy to have influence any young girl, Hetty Feather and her adventures make a compelling read. I'm looking forward to finding out how the young Foundling gets on in future novels.
How I got this book: A Goodreads giveaway run by the publisher, Random House (Hetty Feather is published by the Corgi Yearling imprint) - thanks guys!