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The Illustrated Mum

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,923 Ratings  ·  255 Reviews
Dolphin adores her mother: she's got wonderful clothes, bright hair and vivid tattoos all over her body. She definitely lives a colourful life. Dolphin's older sister, Star, also loves her but is beginning to wonder if staying with a mum whose temper can be as flashy as her body-art is the best thing for the girls...
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 2nd 2000 by Yearling (first published 1999)
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Lola Rose by Jacqueline WilsonThe Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline WilsonVicky Angel by Jacqueline WilsonMy Sister Jodie by Jacqueline WilsonCandyfloss by Jacqueline Wilson
Best Jacqueline Wilson books
2nd out of 61 books — 213 voters
Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien1984 by George OrwellThe Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
BBC Top 200 Books
84th out of 200 books — 63 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, children
Marigold loves her daughters a lot. But she loves herself far more. She sees them as children to be formed in her own egotistical image to reflect what she wants the world to think of her. She has one adoring child and one who is beginning to want her own life and not want to look after her mother anymore. Both desperately seek an adequate parent instead of some weird 'best friend' and put their hope in absent and previously unknown fathers.

The mother predictably has a breakdown, predictably ov
Re-read for #ReadForMentalHealthWeek. I hadn't read this book for years but it was always one of my favourite Jacqueline Wilson books growing up. I can definitely appreciate it more as an older reader, and understand more how Marigold was acting and how it impacted Dolphin and Star.
Alice Nachir
Jul 24, 2012 Alice Nachir rated it really liked it
The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson is a book that really relates to my childhood experiences whilst growing up. Marigold is a mother who is eccentric to say the least; is covered in crazy tattoos, and tends to put the needs of her two daughters Star and Dolphin, last. Her daughters adore her but wish for her to become more 'normal'.
The mood of the book is somewhat depressing yet hopeful with spurts of humour. I can see this book relating to many children coming from broken homes and famil
Feb 13, 2009 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
I think this is one of Wilson's darker and more depressing novels, geared toward slightly older children. Marigold is great at getting tattoos, not so great at anything else. Especially naming children - poor Dolphin. Dolphin doesn't even like dolphins. I remember that. The novel focuses on Marigold's spiral into depression, and touches on some sensitive subjects - mental health and depression, alcoholism, learning difficulties, bad parenting... At the age of eleven or whenever I read this book, ...more
Jade Singleton
Sep 08, 2012 Jade Singleton rated it it was amazing
The Illustrated Mum is the story of ten year old Dolphin and her life living with Mum, Marigold and older sister, Star.

Marigold is not your average Mum. She does not work, is covered in tattoos and likes to party. Marigold, Dolphin and Star live together in a run-down flat and the story, which is told by Dolphin, describes her life growing up. Dolphin is very naive and although she realises that her mother is different to others, she always sees the good side. She is very innocent compared to he
Aug 24, 2011 Namratha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit, tween-time
First up, I loved the title. I was tickled pink by this fresh badge for a heavily-tattooed individual. It immediately flooded my mind with images of a lean young woman whose pale skin was totally blanketed by inked crosses, cryptic motifs and a host of Celtic symbols.

And the story itself floods you with a bucket load of emotion.

It’s a tale of Marigold; a free-spirited, auburn-haired, rocker-vibe infused, covered-with-tattoos single mother. She has two young daughters Star and Dolphin, both from
Laura Ellison
Feb 06, 2016 Laura Ellison rated it it was amazing
This is possibly one of my very favourite Wilson books. Like most of her books, I read it many times as a child. Looking back as an adult, it's clear the mother is living with some form of mental illness, most likely bipolar disorder.

As a child reading this, and from the perspective of the child from which this book is written, all you understand is that Mum is quite impulsive and a little bit weird. She isn't like a normal mum, there's often little money to buy the things the two daughters (Do
Aug 03, 2015 Ana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: quem gosta de livros pequeninos, fáceis de ler, com uma história bonita muita próxima da realidade
Finalmente li este livro! Depois de tanto tempo (demasiado até) à espera na prateleira, de já o ter começado e ter desistido e de o ter emprestado a amigas antes de o ler (o que acontece raramente), li-o de enfiada num dia, porque realmente não consegui parar.

O título pode parecer infantil (muito devido à tradução) mas a história não é, de certeza. Adorei-a, do princípio ao fim: uma família problemática na qual o amor consegue vencer.

Quanto à escrita, já tinha lido outros livros da mesma autora
Shajeda Begum
Apr 24, 2014 Shajeda Begum rated it really liked it
I read this book when I was around 10 years old and I personally loved this book. The story explores different things children experience as they are growing up. The mother Marigold is covered in tattoos and she always puts her two daughters: Star and Dolphin last. She is not an attentive mother and she is quite self centred. Her daughters wish for their mother to be normal. The book is quite gloomy however there are many instances where there is humour. This book touches on social issues such a ...more
Devon Flaherty
Jun 26, 2013 Devon Flaherty rated it liked it

I had a week before me, during which I was planning and packing for a very big trip, two thick books lined up in the queue (which would be the wooden box between my front door and the couch), and Dustbin Baby already read. I was not that impressed, and took a stroll through the giant spreadsheet of my Best Books to Read, where I found a total of twelve more Jacqueline Wilson books. I was not pumped. But I was surprised.

Who is this Jacqueline Wilson character that she makes the top 1200 (or s
Aug 24, 2009 Jenn rated it liked it
Shelves: kid-at-heart, audio
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2013 Bookgirl15 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Marigold has two daughters one who doesn't mind having her as a young mother, but the other one wants to start a life of her own because she is really fed up with having to look after Marigold all the time. So they are searching for their unknown fathers, then they sadly both end up in care while something shocking has happened to Marigold.

Dolphin adores her mother, she loves her wavy red hair and her tattoos and she is convinced that she is really good at making up s
Jan 07, 2010 Isabel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dolphin and her sister (Star) always have to takecare of their mother. With swirling tattos and bright orange hair Marigold, their mother, dosen't know right from wrong. Star thinks she is irresponsible but Dolphin thinks she is wonderful,but when someone arrives everything goes downhill from there.
The Illustrated Mum is full of drama and realistic-fiction. This book is better than worse but it's not one of my favorites. This book is full of a possible real life senario.
I would recommend thi
Apr 29, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is pushing a five star rating. I really loved it. I loved how each chapter was named after one of Marigold's tatoos and each tatoo had some significance to that part of the story and Dolphin's life with her mum or her sister, Star. I thought the author's portrayal of this type of mental illness through the character of Marigold was very accurate. This is a serious subject and a serious story, but Wilson makes it very accessible to a younger audience, probably 11 and up I'd say. I loved ...more
Jun 21, 2015 Siobhan rated it liked it
Wilson is great at making realistic characters that you can quickly come to term with, giving realistic reactions to events.

Her books are great at getting children to really think about actions and their consequences, really opening the eyes of children to the world. Some of her books are sensitive reads yet they are all great at sending life messages to children.

I feel as though Wilson books are a must in the lives of young children, a way of opening their eyes to the real world in the right wa
Dec 19, 2011 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic
This is one of the saddest, most heartfelt books I've ever read.
IT totally transforms you to a different state of mind, and Jaqueline Wilson writes with such careful carelessness that she might as well be writing about Little Red Riding Hood whereas one might think that the depth and gravity of The Illustrated Mum would require a much more emotional writing style.
Overall the effect is astounding. I never expected to like her book this much.
Oct 04, 2015 Nazhath added it
Recommends it for: Year 5 and 6 students
The Illustrated Mum

This story is about Dolphin, her older sister Star and their mother, Marigold. Marigold likes to adorn her body with tattoos; Dolphin finds them beautiful whereas Star despises the growing addition.

Both sisters are shown to be opposites. Dolphin doesn’t have any friends and is lonely most of the time as opposed to Star, who is quite popular in school and goes out with her friends quite often. Their mother Marigold doesn’t work and is always usually in bed during the day and on
Sep 17, 2012 Rachael_rebecca rated it it was amazing
A story with quite a serious plot involving an emotionally unstable mother Marigold who is dependent on her two daughter's Dolphin and Star; following their struggles to look after her and dealing with Star's father (Mickey) entering their lives again. It is written through the eyes of 9 year old Dolphin and conveys her worries and frustration at being caught between her mother and sister, who is quickly losing patience with Marigold and her eccentric nature. Despite involving quite mature issue ...more
Ambreen Bilgrami
May 06, 2012 Ambreen Bilgrami rated it it was amazing
Another great novel by Jacqueline Wilson, ‘The Illustrated Mum’ touches upon very delicate subjects that Wilson is well known to do. The story follows a depressed single mother, ‘Marigold’ who is covered from head to toe in tattoos that represent a certain aspect in her life. Marigold has two young daughters ‘Star’ and ‘Dolphin’, both whom have problems that girls their age tend to face, as well as having to look after their manic depressive mother. This book covers many issues; it is a very rea ...more
Arushi Bhaskar
Oct 10, 2015 Arushi Bhaskar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This is the unique story of an even more unique family: a mother with bright red hair, who's covered in tattoos, literally from head-to-toe, a blond 13-year old girl who's both embarrassed and revolted by her mother's careless lifestyle, and the narrator, a 10-year old mousy girl, who loves them both, yet feels neglected by both of them.

Jacqueline Wilson proves in this book her dedication to the craft of writing. The titles of the chapters refer to Marigold's tattoos, and, reading it as a 10-yea
Carol Thompson
Sep 06, 2012 Carol Thompson rated it really liked it
The Illustrated mum stands out in my childhood because I borrowed most of my books from the library, but on 'world book day' I remember getting 'The Illustrated Mum' to keep and read over and over as many times I liked without having to worry about a library fine!
The Illustrated Mum tackles numerous adult issues, cleverly disguised within a childrens book. From the title, you might be forgiven for thinking that the story is simply about a mum who is covered in colourful tattoos. However, undern
Gwion Russell
Aug 21, 2013 Gwion Russell rated it it was amazing
Jacqueline Wilson's The Illustrated Mum tells the story of an illustrated, warm and carefree mother, Marigold, and her two young girls, Star, the eldest, wiser and most popular daughter and Dolphin, caring, ambitious and a victim of bullying at her local school. The story follows the three characters throughout their constant social and domestic hardships as they seek both their fathers. Star eventually finds her father Micky and neglects Marigold by going to live with him. Marigold is deeply ef ...more
Aug 22, 2012 Alison rated it it was amazing
The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson is based on two children Dolphin and her older sister Star who live with their mother Marigold. Marigold has a drinking problem and sometimes acts ‘crazy’, and example of this is her ‘addiction’ to tattoos. Dolphin loves Marigold and thinks she is wonderful and unique while Star is embarrassed by Marigold's tattoos and erratic behaviour. Dolphin feels like an outsider at school; she is bullied by some classmates and feels her teacher is unkind to her. She ...more
Sep 10, 2013 Hannah rated it really liked it
The illustrated mum is a melodramatic tale about two young girls, Dolphin and Star who struggle to come to terms with their mother's mental health problems. Their mother, Marigold is an eccentric with a free spirit who goes out every night and gets a new tattoo whenever she has the opportunity. However, her uncontrollable mood swings and alcohol addiction, physically and emotionally take their toll on Dolphin and Star (the narrator). The two daughters are convinced their mother will get better i ...more
Beth Bonini
Jun 19, 2012 Beth Bonini rated it liked it
I wanted to read this book because Jacqueline Wilson claims it (in her autobiography, Jacky Daydream) as her favourite of all her many books. Certainly, it is full of the "difficult" issues she is known for tackling. That aspect of Wilson's work is controversial, but overall, I'm a fan. I think her books fulfil one of the really important roles of realistic fiction: showing us the lives of those different, and maybe much less fortunate, than ourselves. I think that Wilson is a hugely compassiona ...more
Laura Clayton
Nov 06, 2013 Laura Clayton rated it it was amazing
The Plot:
The story is about a Mum and her two daughters who live in a flat within London. The Mum, Marigold is very ‘unconventional’ in terms of the usual mums most stories depict. Her daughters have very different views on her; Star who is the eldest, is not approving of her mum or appearance/lifestyle and is somewhat embarrassed. However Dolphin see’s her mum in a much more positive ‘unique’ light. The story unfolds when Marigold ends up meeting up with one of the girl’s father’s and she bring
Sep 26, 2011 Anjali rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that this book was good. It had a lot of cliff hangers so if you like suspense books this is a great one.

This book is about 3 people, Star, Dolphin, and Marigold. Star and Dolphin are the daughters of Marigold. Marigold is covered with tattoos all over her body and the children take care of her!!! She is crazy-at least that's what Star thinks. But Dolphin thinks that Marigold is the brightest and most beutiful mother in the world.

So when Star's dad shows up out of nowhere and offers ONL
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
We always love our mums, don't we? Star and Dolphin definitely love their mum, Marigold, though she's a difficult mum to love. For starters, she's covered head to toe in strange tattoos, and, second, she's not always there for her daughters. Such an eccentric mum makes life complicated and disturbing for the two girls. When Marigold comes home from a rock concert with Star's dad, Micky (not Dolphin's dad---he is a different Micky, it turns out), life becomes much more complicated and disturbing. ...more
Sophia Chendoh
The Illustrated Mum – Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson is a national treasure and when I was young she was very popular among children. Wilson’s stories deal with the issues that vulnerable or socially disadvantaged children face. The Illustrated Mum is one of Wilson’s more serious texts but still remains extremely relatable to children. The text contains a lot of imagery and imagination, told in first person by Dol the main character, who is dealing with her sister going away to live with her
Aug 24, 2014 Monica rated it it was amazing
The Illustrated Mum is one of Jacqueline Wilson's best and most poignant novels. This was one of my favourite books when I was younger, but even re-reading it again as a 22-year-old, it's still something that adults can get stuck into. Even though it claims to be a novel for 12 year old, it's written in a very adult way and serves as a good read for adults. My mum is currently reading this after she asked to borrow it from me.

The Illustrated Mum is told from the perspective of 10-year-old Dol (s
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Jacqueline Wilson was born in Bath in 1945, but spent most of her childhood in Kingston-on-Thames. She always wanted to be a writer and wrote her first ‘novel’ when she was nine, filling in countless Woolworths’ exercise books as she grew up. As a teenager she started work for a magazine publishing company and then went on to work as a journalist on Jackie magazine (which she was told was named af ...more
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