Video: Excited youngsters meet favourite author Jacqueline Wilson at Jarrolds in Norwich
10:34 23 February 2014
copyright: Archant 2014
She is one of the world’s most cherished children’s authors.
Her most famous creation Tracey Beaker was transformed into a popular CBBC show, she has won countless awards and sold more than 35 million books in the UK alone.
And when Dame Jacqueline Wilson came to Norwich, the queue of children desperate to meet their favourite author snaked out of Jarrolds Department Store.
Dame Wilson, who has family roots in Norfolk, was signing copies of her new anthology Paws and Whiskers - a collection of cat and dog stories by several different authors.
Some of her fans queued for more than an hour to meet her, and said she was all they had hoped she would be.
First in the queue were friends Elle Roe, 11, of Plumstead Road East, Thorpe St Andrew and Amy Leggett, 11, of Davidson Road, Thorpe St Andrew.
Elle said: “I’m a big fan. I’ve been very excited.”
She clutched a copy of her favourite book - Jacky Daydream - for Dame Wilson to sign.
Sisters Eleanor and Olivia Chapman, of Norwich, got tickets to the event as a surprise present from their grandad.
Eleanor, nine, said she and her six-year-old sister had been fans of Dame Wilson for years, and had more than 20 of her books.
“We talked about butterflies,” said Eleanor. “She is my favourite author tied with [Harry Potter author] JK Rowling.”
Their mum Tanya said: “She said how lovely Eleanor’s top was and that she wanted to learn about butterflies for her next book.
“She was very friendly and very funny.”
Friends Ellie Solomon, 10, Stephanie Browne, 11 and Bethany Badcock-Merry, 13, made the journey from Cambridge and said Dame Wilson was very down to earth.
Tickets had run out well in advance of Saturday’s event, and Amelia Botly, nine, of Cere Road, Sprowston, was among those who missed out.
She had posted a message on the Jacqueline Wilson fan club Facebook page expressing her disappointment, and to her surprise she received a message back asking for her address and a few days later received a goody bag of Jacqueline Wilson treats.
Asked about the act of kindness, Dame Wilson smiled and replied: “You don’t want any child to be upset, so if they can’t come you do try hard.
“I’m a softy and will stay [signing books] for ages.”
She had a spare half an hour before the signing event and was able to take in some of the city sights.
“I had a look round the market and it was thriving,” she said. “I love Norfolk and have been on many happy holidays here.
“Just yesterday chatting to my 90-year-old mother she said ‘are you going to Norwich? Look for your grandpa’s old house.’”
She said of her book Paws and Whiskers: “I was thrilled to bits to do the anthology, partly because I’m dotty about cats myself.”
Her two cats Jacob, four, and Lily, one and a half, come from Battersea and as an ambassador for the charity she is using the book to help raise funds for it.
“Having never had a pet throughout my life I’ve turned into a mad old cat lady,” she joked.
She said she enjoyed compiling the stories, children often mention pets when they write to her and that they are drawn to animal tales.
“I found it quite interesting the variety you can get,” said Dame Wilson. “It’s an easy way to reduce your readers to tears as you care so much for them, and yet animals can do such funny things.
“All the things in a good story are there.”
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