Katy Carr is a lively, daredevil oldest sister in a big family. She loves messing around outdoors, climbing on the garage roof, or up a tree, cycling, skateboarding, swinging…. But her life changes in dramatic and unexpected ways after a serious accident.
Inspired by the classic novel, What Katy Did, Jacqueline Wilson creates an irresistible twenty-first-century heroine. Fans of Hetty Feather and Tracy Beaker will fall in love with Katy and her family too.
I was a huge fan of the original What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge and read it many times as a child. However looking at my own children I can see how far away it is from the world they live in, and although I would whole heartedly encourage them to read it I was interested to see this re-working of the story and discover if Katy could be brought to life in a fresh way for a new audience. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.
Obviously I read this mentally comparing it to the original, but many today would come at it with fresh eyes and the story holds its own. Katy is the oldest of a string of six children. She is the leader of the pack, full of great ideas and an exciting imagination. She is also full of good intentions in regards to looking after her brothers and sisters, but somehow things don’t always work out the way she plans. Katy has a loving relationship with her father and a strained one with her step-mother whom she struggles to get on with whilst missing her own mother who died years before the story begins. Katy also finds her step-sister Elsie difficult to get along with, not really understanding Elsie’s need to be accepted by her at all. We get to know Katy as she goes through ups and downs of modern family life and her experiences at school with friends, starting to like boys and dealing with not so nice girls. All the memorable incidents from the original are there and given a new slant with humour and little twists.
Then Katy’s world is turned upside down as she has a terrible accident that completely changes her life. I felt that Jaqueline dealt with this part of the story extremely well. It has all the shock of the original but in today’s world medical problems are dealt with so differently. Through Katy’s eyes we experience the trauma of going to hospital, coping with treatment, with different people, with the diagnosis itself and with her family’s reactions to it. There are lots of emotions and it could be difficult reading for a sensitive child, or one to young. But it is a great way for children to learn about how life can be changed at a moments notice, and to see the aftermath of this.
As Katy has to learn to come to terms with her new life in a wheel chair Jacqueline depicts her struggles and her triumphs, this is a long process and Katy goes through so much, but I loved the way that the book ends on such a positive note. It’s great to see disability looked at in a way that doesn’t diminish the difficulties but focuses in the end on the good things that can come out of it and the things that Katy can still do rather than those that she can’t.
Also as the family draw together to try and help Katy deal with all that is happening to her there is a brilliant depiction of the complicated nature of family relationships where everyone does not always understand the needs of another and yet they all keep working at it. I really enjoyed the way the relationships evolved through everything that happened.
Verdict: This is agreat update of a classic novel and now, although I will still be encouraging my girls to read the original this will definitely be on my list of must read books for them as they grow up.
Reviewed by Helen