Tracy Beaker is back … as a single mum fighting to make ends meet

Jacqueline Wilson shot to fame 27 years ago with the story of a girl in a care home. She talks about her new book on the now grown-up heroine

It has been 27 years since Jacqueline Wilson, then a little-known children’s author, got together with Nick Sharratt, a young illustrator, and conceived one of the most outrageous characters in children’s literature: Tracy Beaker, the feistiest, funniest 10-year-old ever raised in the dumping ground of a care home.

Now Tracy is back, in a new illustrated book set on a rough housing estate in modern-day London – and this time Tracy is a mother with a challenging nine-year-old daughter of her own.

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Must monsters always be male? Huge gender bias revealed in children’s books

A thieving duck in Peppa Pig is one of the few female villains in the 100 most popular picture books. An Observer study shows that, from hares to bears, females are mostly sidekicks

Male characters are twice as likely to take leading roles in children’s picture books and are given far more speaking parts than females, according to Observer research that shines a spotlight on the casual sexism apparently inherent in young children’s reading material.

In-depth analysis of the 100 most popular children’s picture books of 2017, carried out by this paper with market research company Nielsen, reveals the majority are dominated by male characters, often in stereotypically masculine roles, while female characters are missing from a fifth of the books ranked.

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