In more than two decades of prolific publishing, from the notably feisty heroine of The Story of Tracy Beaker (1991) to Opal Plumstead (2014), allegedly the ‘most outspoken, fiery heroine yet’, Jacqueline Wilson has become well known for her creation of a gallery of strong female characters, whose emotional, and sometimes physical survival is contingent upon their cussedness.1 The determined female protagonist battling against adverse social circumstances is frequently contrasted with male supporting characters whose weaknesses apparently serve mainly to foreground the resilience of the heroine. This simple reversal of traditional gender expectations is often held to contribute to Wilson’s popularity with female readers, who, not unnaturally, enjoy identifying with a powerful, if troubled, central character. Nevertheless, while both Tracy and the eponymous heroine of Opal Plumstead conform to the ‘feisty’ stereotype, her texts contain a variety of representations that go beyond a simple binary challenge to received gender positions. This chapter will examine such representations, both of the children she creates and of the adults who feature in their lives, with especial attention to fathers or father-substitutes.
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- Feisty Girls and Fearful Boys? A Consideration of Gender Roles and Expectations in the Work of Jacqueline Wilson
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