cover image The Lottie Project

The Lottie Project

Jacqueline Wilson. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32718-3

Wilson (Double Act) here introduces an animated heroine who delivers droll observations in a self-assured voice with a decidedly British accent. ""I love fooling around, doing crazy things and being a bit sassy and making everyone laugh,"" announces Charlie (short for Charlotte). Her engaging prattle chronicles events at school--where she tangles with her teacher, bickers with her best friends and works on a project about Victorian life--as well as happenings at home. Charlie's newly unemployed single mother takes on three part-time positions, the most notable being a job as caregiver for a youngster who lives with his father. Much to the girl's chagrin, her mother takes a fancy to her employer. Their evolving relationship provides the backdrop for the novel's most dramatic and poignant scenes, in which Wilson reveals her ability to elicit tears as well as laughter. Between chapters, readers find reproduced ""pages"" from Charlie's school report--journal-like entries written by a poor Victorian girl who leaves home to help support her family. Wilson creatively reshapes Charlie's own experiences to depict the plight of a girl living 100 years earlier, thus adding new dimension to Charlie's perceptions while offering intriguing period particulars. Sharratt's lively, doodled spot drawings further reinforce the protagonist's view of life, both present and past. To borrow a phrase from Charlie, it would be ""easy peasy, simple pimple"" to welcome her back. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)