It’s hard to remember a time when Little Miss C wasn’t a bookworm. Even as a baby she loved being read to, and then since she learnt to read independently (sometime in Year One at school) there’s been no stopping her. Her bedroom is full of books. As is her bed. I struggle to understand how she manages to get a decent night’s sleep as she’s usually got her head next to a pile of books with others all around her and under the duvet and her pillow. As someone who loves a good book myself, it’s something that I’ll happily support and encourage as I clearly remember how much pleasure I used to get from curling up with a book as a child.
A while ago she discovered Hetty Feather on CBBC and as soon as she realised that the television programme was based on a book she became a huge Jacqueline Wilson addict. By coincidence I picked up a Jacqueline Wilson magazine for her when I was at Blog On back in May and she’s used that as a basis for creating a list of Jaqueline Wilson books that she wants to read and has decorated her bedroom in pictures from the magazine.
For those of you not in the know I should explain that Hetty Feather is a character created by Dame Jacqueline Wilson as part of her role as a Foundling Fellow at the Foundling Museum in London. The Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital which was originally founded by Captain Thomas Coram as “a hospital for the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children”. The hospital continues today at the charity Coram, who help children and young people through their pioneering work in adoption, parenting support, housing support, alcohol and drug education, creative therapies and championing legal rights in the UK and overseas. Jacqueline Wilson was asked by the museum if she had ever thought of writing a novel about a foundling child and almost immediately Hetty Feather sprang to life inside her head.
Hetty is a young girl who was abandoned as a baby at the Foundling Hospital by her mother and then goes to live with a foster family, before returning to the Foundling Hospital as a curious five year old. There have so far been five Hetty Feather books, three television series based on Jacqueline’s books (Series 1, Series 2 and Series 3 all available on DVD), as well as a stage show too. It’s fair to say that Hetty has become a bit of a star, and Jacqueline’s work has really brought the Foundling Hospital to life for so many children.
The Foundling Museum has developed an exhibition that is running this summer called Picturing Hetty Feather which aims to show visitors how Hetty has brought to life the history of the Foundling Hospital in London and see television props, rarely-seen archival items and take part in hands on activities. We were invited to an event to celebrate the exhibitions’s opening at the start of the school holidays and most excitingly Jacqueline Wilson was there too to talk about how she created Hetty and read from the first Hetty Feather book. To say that LMC was star-struck would be an understatement. She clutched her copy of Hetty Feather all the way to London and when she came face to face with Jacqueline Wilson she struggled to even speak. And anyone who knows LMC in real life will know how unusual that is!
Dressed up in one of the costumes made for the CBBC series she was somewhat mesmerised by the idea of being in a recreation of the school room that Hetty would have been in at the hospital. Way before I even knew about this event I remember LMC spending most of a car journey chatting away to me about Hetty and the Foundling Hospital and I soon realised just what a remarkable job Jacqueline Wilson had done in bringing Hetty, and the other foundling children, to life for her readers and teaching them about this bit of history. I’d never even heard of the Foundling Hospital before, but LMC carefully explained what it’s role had been, yet it was only when visiting the museum with her that I realised the connection with Coram and the Coram’s Fields playground that I have so often visited with the children when in Bloomsbury with them.
After the event and a trip round the exhibition, Master C and I dashed off across London to a Christmas in July event (more on that very soon!) whilst I left LMC and her Granny at the Foundling Museum for one of their hands-on sessions where she got to try her hand at paper marbling (how have I never had a go at this??? It’s now on my list of things to try with the kids this summer) and making a little notebook. She had an amazing time and I was so impressed with the results of what she did.
Not only has Jacqueline Wilson brought Hetty Feather and the foundling children to life for LMC and other children, but the Picturing Hetty Feather exhibition has brought it all to life even more for visitors. LMC is now re-reading Hetty Feather for the fourth time and is even more obsessed with Hetty and her life at the hospital. She’s constantly busy drawing pictures of Hetty and starting to write her own stories about her too. Thank you Jacqueline for inspiring my little bookworm!
The Foundling Museum can be found at 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ. Open: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 – 17:00, Sunday 11:00 – 17:00, Monday closed. Admission: £8,25 adults, £5.50 confessions (incl Gift Aid), free for children, Foundling Friends and National Art Pass holders. An additional nominal charge for adults applies for Picturing Hetty Feather. Tube and train: Russell Square, King’s Cross St Pancras and Euston. Picturing Hetty Feather runs until 3 September 2017.
Disclaimer: We were invited to this event as guests of the Foundling Museum. All opinions remain my own. This post contains affiliate links.