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The Illustrated Mum Hardcover – February 8, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8–A searing portrait of a woman's mental illness and its effects on her children is told by her youngest daughter, 10-year-old Dolphin. High school student Star is a practical, angry teen. Their mother, Marigold, is covered in tattoos and compulsively gets new ones whenever she gets upset, which happens more and more frequently. The family is constantly on the brink of being homeless and the girls essentially have to take care of themselves and their mother. Marigold is obsessed with Star's father, whom she hasn't seen in years and who doesn't even know that he has a daughter. She finds Micky at a concert and is convinced that they will now reunite. Star goes to stay with him because she can't handle Marigold any longer, leaving Dolphin with a mother who is less and less stable. After a complete breakdown, she is put in a psychiatric ward and Dol is put in foster care, at least temporarily. Star comes back and stays there as well. Dolphin is a sympathetic character and the relationship between the sisters is realistically portrayed, as is Marigold's mental illness. This isn't a fun read and the girls' future is only moderately hopeful, but it is an involving one on a subject not often portrayed in children's literature.–B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY

From Booklist

Gr. 5-7. Wilson, who always writes realistically and with humor, outdoes herself in this story about nine-year-old Dolphin, the narrator; her older sister, Star; and their one-of-a-kind mother, Marigold. Covered with tattoos and alternating between manic and depressive behavior, Marigold nonetheless inspires devotion from her daughters, who do more of the mothering than she does. After Star's father turns up and she goes to live with him, Marigold sinks deeper into madness. Dolphin finally helps get her to the hospital and then enters foster care, with her own father hovering in the background. Wilson's strong suit is her characterization. Star is convincing as the worried, responsible sister who longs to move out but feels guilty about it, and Dolphin never seems older than her years as she relates the alternating awe and fear that almost everyone around her inspires. The centerpiece, though, is Marigold, who tries to be a good mother, even as she gives in to her immature feelings and struggles with her bipolar disease. There are a few unrealistic plot points, but readers will be too busy rooting for Dolphin and her family to notice. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (February 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385732376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385732376
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,517,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on December 16, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This was a great book and I really liked it. The book is from the point of view of the younger daughter named Dolphin and it's about her mum, Marigold, not really a regular mum. She is covered with tattoos that all have a meaning or memory in her life. She goes out a lot and drinks. Dolphin tries to take care of her mum, but her sister, Star, has gotton tired of her behavior and doesn't care much about Marigold anymore. One night when Marigold goes to see Emerald City's reunion concert and finds her old boyfriend that see was always crazy about and is Star's father. Star loves her father and he loves Star, but he doesn't love Marigold. Star ends up living with her father, breaking Marigold and Dolphin's heart. Marigold even goes more crazy and does something so SHOCKING! Dolphin gets so scared that she calls for an ambulance, even though she knew Marigold hated hospitals. Now Dolphin is alone and doesn't want the Social to get involved. So she and her only friend, Oliver, end up looking for her father with the only information Dolphin knew about him from her mum, that his name was Micky and he was a swimming teacher. " ' This is an emergency,' said Oliver. 'One more' "..." ' Oh, hello. Look, this sounds a silly question but can you tell me if there's anyone called Micky working as an instructor at your pool?' 'No Mickys,' said the voice. 'See,' I mouthed at Oliver. 'None at all?' Oliver persisted. 'Well. I'm Michael. I did get called Micky once. But that was ages ago.' ........ 'Oh gosh, oh gosh!' Oliver squeaked. 'And do you ever remember meeting a lady, a very pretty lady weith red hair and lots of tattoos?' 'You mean...Marigold?' "
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Format: Kindle Edition
I first got this book from a friend, who had two copies and gave one to me. I knew just from looking at the cover and reading the blurb that I was going to like this book. I started reading it the minute I got home. Even if you just read the very first sentence you are immediately hooked. You cannot put it down. You think "Well, maybe I will just read two more pages." But then two pages turns into three, then thirty and then sixty.

Please read this!!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved how dramatic it was and how it really showed that there is no stronger bond than family. Jacqueline Wilson really made this book sorrowful, but also showed how friendship can break all boundaries.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I really like this book.marigold is the mother of star and Dolphin but she really does not act like a mum. she is covered in tattoos like snakes,dolphins ect ect.then marigold meets micky stars dad but then he says that dolphin and star can stay with him. of course star says yes.but then marigold goes completley mad and paints herself from head to toe.dolphin then finds her dad.but I wont spoil the book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
My 12yr old is not a keen reader but she couldn't put this book down. The issues covered in this book seemed quite adult but were portrayed in a way that my daughter could relate to. She immediately chose another book by this author.
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Format: Paperback
I have not picked up and read a juvenile fiction book in a long time, but this one piqued my interest when I looked through the audio books at our library. I'm very glad I did! This is one of the best juvenile fiction books I have ever read, and I used to read tons of them as a young girl.

Dolphin and Star have a very flambouyant mother named Marigold who is a manic depressive/alcoholic, dies her hair bright red, and sports tons of tattoos; she's man crazy and dresses too young for her age. While Star, who is 13 is sick and tired of not having a normal mother, 11 year-old Dolphin adores her regardless of the torment she endures in school, and the fact that Marigold often leaves the girls unattended to fend for themselves, scaring Dolphin silly a lot of the time. Then one night Marigold brings home Star's father from a concert, and the girl willingly moves in with him, leaving poor Dolphin to deal incapably with her mother's craziness. This is a very good, realistic portrait of what an awful lot of children probably go through, and Dolphin tells the entire story. She is a sweet, smart, funny, and lovable character who truly loves Marigold though she can't always understand her mother's wild behavior, but she is also the one who inevitably must resolve to get Marigold help as her condition worsens.

I am related to someone very much like Marigold, so I could relate to Dolphin's story telling as I watched my relation's daughter go through similar experiences. Actress Josie Lawrence is an amazingly versatile talent who does lots of great voices, and her performance is so intimate, it never seems like she's reading from Wilson's book. A great story anyone remotely connected with a situation like this can relate to, and maybe you even know a few people who possess these very realistic traits. A superiorly well-done job, I would recommend this book to anybody and everybody.
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Format: Library Binding
This story deals heavily in the subject of "Manic Depressive illness" - I happen to know something about the illness but I won't go into that- and the dangers of being with someone who happens to have it if you happen to live with them. "The Illustrated Mum" is a gritty story told from the point of view of a young girl named Dolphin who struggles to stand by her mother even when her oldest sister Star doesn't want to. They don't live in the greatest conditions and their mother Marigold's behavior switches on and off when they least expect it, making it hard for them to communicate with her. The worse part of the story happens to be when Star's supposed father comes home with Marigold one night and Star decides to put her sister on the back burner, and leaves with her father (all because she can't take living with her mother any more), which has to be the worse thing to. Dolphin tries several times to get her sister to return but Star won't bend to her little sister's begging and Marigold only gets worse as the weeks go by; So worse in fact, she is admitted to a mental hospital. From there the story seems to fall further into the gritty storyline which it surrounds despite the light moments, however, that is not to say that this book isn't great to read. On the contrary, "The Illustrated Mum" is one of those rare books that actually have you thinking on the subject its writing about and the way it affects its characters. All in all, I enjoyed this book. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a bit of truth to their story. [a 5 out of 5]
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