Kicking off season seven of Bookshelfie is the iconic, beloved children’s author and national treasure, Dame Jacqueline Wilson. Jacqueline picks the five books that shaped her not just as a writer but as a reader, discusses the art of judging a book by its cover and chats about her brand new book.

Check out the full episode here.

Ballet Shoes

by Noel Streatfeild

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There are the three girls, two on the front and one at the back. And when I saw this, and they were doing ballet looking lovely, and I thought, oh, I want this book. And I had no idea what wonderful story it would be. And I think basically, I like it so much, because they are such realistic children…I mean, they’re lovely girls. The whole book had me entranced. I think it’s a cracking story. I really do.

Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Brontë

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I read just the first paragraph, and it immediately gripped me, it was about a little girl, it was written in the first person, she was fed up, and it was raining. And then as I read on, she has these horrible cousins, particularly that the eldest boy, and they bully her, it was far sort of stronger meat than the sort of thing that you came across in children’s books. And I was just fascinated.

The Bell Jar

by Sylvia Plath

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She can’t quite decide what she wants to do and what sort of person she wants to be. And it’s, you know, do you want to be a conventional mother with children? Do you want to have a great writing career? Can you combine them both? It’s an extraordinary story. And it is sad because she does have a breakdown. But it’s so beautifully told that prose is so sharp, it’s so clever.

Standard Deviation

by Katherine Heiny

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A total joy to read. It’s easy to read, but it’s profound. She’s a very skilled writer, but her characters are complex. It’s interesting, she’s chosen to tell the story from Graham ‘s point of view, who’s the sort of man that would love a quiet life. He’s got Audra, who, you know, starts talking about the most amazing intimate things on buses at the top of her voice. But she’s warm hearted and lovely and loves to socialise whereas Graham is your classic introvert.

Clock Dance

by Anne Tyler

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I think possibly, it’s very difficult for me to choose my favourites between Accidental Tourist or Dinner at the Homesick Cafe. But I thought I will particularly choose Clock Dance, which is one she wrote relatively recently. Because it makes me feel so relieved that Anne Tyler is actually older than me. And yet this book, I think she was just about the same age that I am when she wrote it, and it was published. And it’s, I think, one of her finest. And it’s, it’s a little bit inspirational, maybe you can carry on and carry on and carry on.