Author: Jacqueline Wilson
Illustrator: Nick Sharratt
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Concepts: wealth, domestic violence, jobs
Review: As an only child attending an elite private school and living in an ultra-deluxe home with her own en-suite bathroom, Beauty Cookson seemed to have it all. However, these financial luxuries masked a deeply troubling home life and profound unhappiness at school. Beauty's father, an angry man with a violent temper and unpredictable mood-swings, abused Beauty and her mother verbally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically. Particularly grating were his constant reminders that Beauty's mother had no real abilities except to look good, and his incessant demands that Beauty fit into his idealized image of a rich princess.
At school, Beauty was ostracized and teased mercilessly for her plain looks, unfashionable clothes, and lackluster personality. Beauty felt completely powerless to do anything to change her predicament; her only source of solace and escape came from a juvenile TV cartoon. It took an extravagant birthday party planned by her father to unleash a host of unexpected events and pent-up feelings that quickly and brutally signaled the need for change.
Acclaimed British author Jacqueline Wilson is known for tackling difficult social issues in her works of children's fiction. Cookie represents another such piece of work, this time in the context of the manipulation and pain exercised by an abusive man, and the powerlessness and fear experienced by his wife and child. This book is a tough read, with a drawn-out focus on the abuse and no mention of sources of assistance and legal redress for victims of domestic violence.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children