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Tracy Beaker

from The Story of Tracy Beaker

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By Laura

A photo of Laura Hunter reading Jacqueline Wilson's The Story of Tracy Beaker

When I was ten years old my favourite place was Rossington Community Library on McConnel Crescent. It’s an unassuming grey concrete building, but at the time it was as impressive a structure as the Barbican is to me now. I loved it in there.

I can still remember the smell. An amalgamation of the musty old books and ones that were just off the press. I remember wondering how long it would take me to read them all. And if I managed to, would my brain explode with words?

There was a three-book loan policy at Rossington Library. It meant when it came to choosing, I’d often go into a mild state of panic. So my method was to let the books choose me. I used to run my fingers across the spines until some magical force made me stop in my tracks. (This was most likely my mum telling me to hurry up, but let’s just pretend.

And that’s how I met Tracy Beaker. The blurb and the book cover told me that Tracy and I were destined to be. We were the same age and had the same black, uncontrollably curly hair. I couldn’t wait to get home.

Tracy Beaker is a feisty, hilarious ten year old who lives in a care home nicknamed the Dumping Ground. Tracy has the ability to suss people out pretty quickly and knows exactly how to push their buttons, a trait I especially liked.

Tracy’s story is a sad one. She waits for her mum to pick her up from the care home; we know she isn’t coming. And she forms relationships – her first foster parents and the cute baby Camilla – that break down through no fault of her own. But I never felt sorry for her. In fact, out of all of the characters I’d read, Tracy Beaker was the one I most wanted to be.

What I like most about Tracy is that she’s not hopeless. And while she might be described as vulnerable, I just think she is refreshingly honest. Tracy deals with all of her problems in a really natural way. When she’s faced with difficulties like falling out with friends or feeling like she doesn’t quite belong, Tracy uses her imagination and writes stories.

Fifteen years after The Story of Tracy Beaker jumped out at me in the library, I’ve never forgotten that. No matter what problems life throws at you, there’s always a way out. Just pick up a pen and write.

The 26 writing group has worked with The Story Museum as part of its 26 Characters exhibition. The group have produced a collection of poems, and couldn’t resist being part of the gallery of favourite characters.

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