Little Stars, by Jacqueline Wilson

Hetty Feather has begun a new chapter in her life story. Escaping from Tanglefield’s Travelling Circus with her friend Diamond, Hetty is determined to find them positions as music-hall artists. The pair quickly become the Little Stars of Mrs Ruby’s show, alongside many colourful acts including a friend from Hetty’s past, Flirty Bertie.

But the music hall is both thrilling and dangerous and Hetty must fight to protect Diamond as well as deal with her feelings for Bertie and for Jem, who she has never forgotten. Starring a cast of old and new characters, this is the fifth Hetty Feather story by Jacqueline Wilson.

As a fan of Wilson’s, I had high hopes for this book, however I was left rather disappointed. Firstly, it is a long book for its intended audience. Voracious readers will take on the challenge, but the length will intimidate those who are reluctant.

The story is also very slow to take off and never really picks up pace. It took me well over a month to get through as I would get bored reading it. Major events are skipped over while other more mundane plot lines are long winded and it feels very out of balance.

The ending was unsatisfying and left things with at least one character unresolved. It could be a set up for another story, and I dearly hope it is, as followers of Hetty Feather deserve more than Little Stars offers.

In saying that, lovers of Wilson’s stories will lap it up. She is a prolific writer and really knows how to relate to her vast fans. It has some bright sparks of humour and drama that will delight younger readers and the characters are, for the most part, fun. It also has a lovely message that will inspire readers. She touches on everything that is precious to young people; friends, family and love.

With simple language, it would make a great read aloud story for parents and children, from about 7-years-old and up, to enjoy. However, Little Stars is definitely one for the die-hard Wilson fans.

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Rebekah is an Otago-based mother of two young girls. The former journalist and primary school teacher has a soft spot for New Zealand authors and young adult fiction. Follow her on Twitter.

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