Tracy Beaker (character)
|First appearance||The Story of Tracy Beaker|
|Last appearance||Tracy Beaker Returns|
|Created by||Jacqueline Wilson|
|Portrayed by||Dani Harmer
Sarah Churm (Stage Play)
|Family||Carly Beaker (mother)
Camilla Lawson (adoptive mother)
Gary Lawson (former adoptive step-father)
Tracy Beaker is the lead character created by Jacqueline Wilson in her Tracy Beaker series of books. She is a girl with a wild imagination, living in care and regularly breaking its rules. As such, she is sometimes considered a bad role model by parents. Her books, however, have proved to be extremely popular, becoming those most-loaned from UK public libraries between 2000 and 2010. Although she is Wilson's most popular character, she is not Wilson's personal favourite. In addition to books, Tracy has also appeared in a popular children's television drama, a play and a video game.
Tracy Beaker is introduced as a ten-year-old girl living in a children's residential care home nicknamed the "Dumping Ground". The nickname is explained in The Story of Tracy Beaker as being where children in care are "dumped" when they are "past their sell-by date". She has been described as a modern heroine, with regular looks and curly brown hair. It is revealed that she has been placed in care not because she is an orphan but owing to her mother not being good at looking after her. Tracy imagines that her mother is a Hollywood Star who will collect her one day. Carly Beaker, who is Tracy's mum, really is a film star but does stunts as revealed in Tracy Beaker's Movie of Me. Her personality has been described as bossy and rebellious, whilst likable and creative. She has been estranged from her mother for a long period and regularly disagrees with the staff and children at the Dumping Ground. On top of this she has been rejected by two sets of foster parents, one time because the couple looking after her were about to have a baby and couldn't keep Tracy with them, much to her upset.
Originally introduced in the book The Story of Tracy Beaker, to date the character has appeared in two further books, The Dare Game and Starring Tracy Beaker. She has also appeared in Red Nose Day special called Tracy Beaker's Thumping Heart.
In 2002, the BBC made a children's series based on the books, The Story of Tracy Beaker, starring Dani Harmer as Tracy. The programme ran for five series on CBBC and included a one-off feature-length movie, Tracy Beaker's Movie of Me. Harmer first took on the role at the age of 12 and has maintained it for 10 years. The character returned for an additional three series of Tracy Beaker Returns, in which an adult Tracy Beaker helps a new generation of kids at the Dumping Ground.
The character has also appeared in a stage adaptation of the book, Tracy Beaker Gets Real, starring Sarah Churm as Tracy. It was written by Mary Morris, one of the writers of the TV series. Like the television series, the set used elements of cartoon themes, similar to the illustrations in the books.
In 2009, Tracy Beaker became a video game character in Tracy Beaker: The Game on Nintendo DS and PC. The game, described as "bookish", involves reading large portions of text to make choices for the character.
Similar to Wilson's other characters, Tracy Beaker is a child from a difficult background, dealing with her issues in a cynical manner and with lots of yelling. The character elicits strong feelings from both children and parents and, as she struggles to come to terms with her situation, she regularly breaks rules. Her fanbase is primarily girls between 8 and 14, as 90% of those who turn up to Jaqueline Wilson's book signings are in that group. However, the books are also on reading lists for schools, so boys will be involved in the classroom. The Story of Tracy Beaker has been UK libraries' most-loaned book between 2000 and 2010.
In its description of Tracy, an article for the Herald Scotland states: "Though her life is bleak, Tracy is funny, imaginative, articulate and hopeful, like all Wilson's heroines." A Liverpool Echo article describes Tracy as "a heroine – a cult character who could be played by any actress." Winifred Robinson, writing in a Daily Mail editorial, criticised the character and suggested that behaviour such as her outbursts were influencing children to act in a similar manner. She also criticised the complexity of the emotions expressed by Tracy, as they were being repeated by other children who cannot understand them; for example, the suggestion that they are deprived because they do not have enough sweets. Robinson finishes by criticising Jaqueline Wilson's form, where adults who are trying to help are undermined by the children along with books with largely adult themes.
- Wilson Jacqueline. "Tracy Beaker Profile". author. Jacqueline Wilson. p. 1. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- Wilson, Jacqueline (2007). Jacky Daydream. Doubleday. p. 307. ISBN 0-385-61015-7.
- "Entertainment | Grown-up return for Tracy Beaker". BBC News. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
- Blackhall, Sue (4 January 2002). "Another success story thanks to children's books.". The Evening Standard. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- Woods, Judith (27 August 2011). "Tracy Beaker taught me everything I know!". Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 May 2012.(subscription required)
- "TRACY'S TEEN SPIRIT; TV's bossy Beaker is coming to life on stage.". Liverpool Echo. 3 October 2006. Retrieved 21 May 2012.(subscription required)
- Key, Philip (11 October 2006). "ARTS DIARY: Little orphan with attitude let loose; THEATRE Tracy Beaker Gets Real, Liverpool Playhouse Philip Key casts an eye over a gritty tale of a rebellious girl.(Features)". Liverpool Post. Retrieved 21 May 2012.(subscription required)
- Elkin, Susan (23 August 2009). "Young at heart: Jacqueline Wilson is back with a new book – and her first venture into videogames". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- "'Tracy Beaker' creator is most-loaned author". The Independent. 12 February 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2012. (subscription required)
- Custom byline text: Anne Johnstone (2012-05-03). "We're all to blame for Neve and Georgia". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
- "icLiverpool - Review: Tracy Beaker Gets Real, Empire Theatre". Icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk. 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
- "The hypocritical Ms Wilson: Why children's writers are hugely to blame for loss of innocence | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
- The writer's official website's character profile for Tracy Beaker
- BBC character profile of Tracy Beaker