Jazzy’s Reviews: ‘Hetty Feather’
The lovely Jazzy is back this week with a brand-new review for your reading pleasure! Megan loves sharing her blog with young reviewers, and Jazzy is one of her favourites. This week, she’s reviewing ‘Hetty Feather’ by award-winning UK children’s author Jacqueline Wilson (who, by the way, is running a fantastic writing competition RIGHT NOW for kids aged 7-12).
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Hetty Feather is a feisty red-haired girl living in the late 19th century. As a baby, her mother is forced to place her in the Foundling Hospital where she is first known as 25629. Once christened as Hetty, she is sent off to kindly strangers on a farm to be cared for up to the age of six. Hetty then reluctantly returns to the Hospital to train as a servant, but is ridiculed and made fun of. Can she last in this horrible, unhygienic place and will she ever see her mother again?
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I like to think my baby hair had not yet sprouted from my little pink head. A bald baby can still just about be beautiful. An infant with hair as scarlet as sin is an abomination, spawn of the devil. So says Matron Bottomly, and she pulls my hair hard.
This story is spoken in the voice of Hetty. You share her every emotion, her hopes and her disappointments. From the onset she reminds me of Anne out of ‘Anne of Green Gables’. They both have a fiery temper and are teased about their hair colour. But despite this, they are loveable characters. I connect really well to Hetty. She LOVES to read and does it whenever she can.
When Hetty arrives to train at the Hospital, she is bullied and laughed at. Hetty feels upset after leaving her foster home. Sadly, she soon grows accustomed to being treated badly. In one part of the book, a man tries to kidnap Hetty. He strokes her feet then tries to take her away, but a brave girl called Sissy saves the day. Hetty has a taste of what poverty is like in this section of the book; she has to rely on begging and selling flowers with Sissy.
When the girls in The Hospital turn 14, they have to leave to become servant girls in different houses. The boys move on to be sailors or soldiers. The boys are treated better and they obviously have more choice than the girls. Hetty really wants to be a boy because of the fun they have. Ironically, Gideon, one of her foster brothers wants to be girl.
While this is a fictional tale, it is quite educational. I learnt about the Victorian times. The clothing, lifestyle and rules were very different to now. I was surprised to learn there was actually a Foundling Hospital for deserted children started by Thomas Coran in 1739.
I recommend ‘Hetty Feather’ to children aged 8+ because of some upsetting and slightly frightening scenes. It is the first story in a series.
There are many lessons in this book: don’t trust strangers, be prepared to face consequences for your actions and try to persevere through hard times. I give ‘Hetty Feather’ four-and-a-half bookbolts out of five.
Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishers UK