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Verity adores her cat, Mabel, and is desperately sad when she dies. Remembering her recent school lessons about the Ancient Egyptians, Verity decides to mummify Mabel and keep her hidden. Verity's dad and grandparents can't bear to talk about death, having lost Verity's mum in childbirth, but when they eventually discover what Verity has done with Mabel, the whole family learns that it's time to talk.
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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 after her!) before turning to writing novels full-time. One of Jacqueline’s most successful and enduring creations has been the famous Tracy Beaker, who first appeared in 1991 in The Story of Tracy Beaker. This was also the first of her books to be illustrated by Nick Sharratt. Since then Jacqueline has been on countless awards shortlists and has gone on to win many awards.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
An edited extract — Chapter one
'I think Sophie is ever so lucky. I love going round to her house to play with her kittens. They're so sweet, the way they scamper around everywhere. Sophie's mum gets cross sometimes because they knock things over and they've pulled off all the curtain cords but the kittens don't care a bit when she wags her finger at them. The only thing they're the slightest bit frightened of is a little clockwork frog. They used to run away from it but now Scary is getting quite bold and dares stretch out a paw to try to catch it. I could play with Sophie's kittens all day long.
I've been to tea at Laura's house too and made friends with Dustbin. He's a cream dog with big dark shiny eyes and if you hold out your hand he'll shake paws with you. I know exactly why he's called Dustbin. He eats all the time! He's meant to be on a diet as he's getting very plump but he's forever on the scrounge. He especially likes crisps. He even licks out the bag.
Aaron's dog Licky is great at licking too. Aaron takes Licky up to the park after school. My gran and Aaron's mum sit on the bench and have a good gossip and play with Aaron's little sister Aimee and we take Licky for a run.
Then we go on the roundabout and Licky sites on Aaron's lap and barks like crazy because he's having so much fun. Then sometimes if we nag and plead enough my gran or Aaron's mum will buy as a whippy ice-cream from the van at the park gate. Aaron always shares his ice-cream with Licky. It's not really fair on Aaron so I tried sharing my cone with Licky too, but Gran stopped me. She whispered I mustn't because of dog germs. My gran has a bit of a germ fixation. She's not very keen on pets apart from Mabel.
I don't know what she'd make of Moyra's pet snake, Crusher. I don't know what' I'd make of Crusher either. I'm not that keen on snakes actually. Moyra sits behind me at school and today she leant forwards and shot out her arm and wrapped it right round my neck and whispered, 'Watch out, Verity, here comes Crusher!'
I knew it was only Moyra, and I'm pretty certain Crusher doesn't even exist - but I still screamed.
I have a pet. She is a tabby cat called Mabel. I love her dearly. But she is very, very,very boring. She doesn't do anything. She just sleeps. Sometimes I leave her curled up on my bed when I go to school and when I come home there she still is, in exactly the same position. She doesn't go out at night and run around having wild encounters with big bad tom cats. No my Mabel.
She stays indoors, dozes all evening, and then sleeps all night, back on my bed. She likes to lie on my feet like a live hot-water bottle.
She's about as playful as a hot-water bottle too. I can't believe she was ever a cute little kitten like Sporty, Scary, Baby and Posh. You could run a clockwork frog right over Mabel and she wouldn't budge. She's never stalked or tilled anything in her life. She doesn't know that's the way cats are supposed to hunt food.. She is happy to amble into the kitchen and wait for Gran to open her tin of Whiskas. It's the only exercise she takes all day.
Gran says I've got remember Mabel is very, very old. Mabel has been very, very old ever since I can remember. She was my mum's cat.
I haven't got a mum. She died the day I was born. That's almost all I know. Gran still can't talk about Mum without her eyes going watery. Even Grandad cries. So I don't talk about my mum because I don't want to upset them.
I've got a dad but I don't see him all that often because he's left for work before I get up and he's nearly always still at work when I go to bed. I once heard Gran say my dad is married to his job. Just so long as he doesn't marry a real lady. I definitely don't want a stepmother.
I've read all about stepmothers in fairy stories. They don't have a good image. Laura's get a stepdad and she certainly doesn't think much of him. He's the one who put poor Dustbin on a diet. He even suggested Laura's mum should go on a diet and made her upset about having a big bottom — which she can't help.
Thank goodness Dad doesn't seem interested in any ladies, with big or little bottoms. He hardly ever talks about Mum but he once said she was the loveliest woman in the whole world and no-one could replace her. This was a great relief.
I love my dad. He sometimes takes me out for treats on Saturdays, just him and me. For my last birthday he took me all the way on the train to Paris and Disneyland, which was fantastic - and he bought me a giant Minnie Mouse doll. I have her in my bed every night. It gets a bit crowded with Mabel as well.
People are sometimes sorry for me because I haven't got a mum. Sophie once put her arms round me and said it must be so awful. I was bad then and made myself look so sad that Sophie would be specially sweet to me, but I really don't mind a bit not having a mum. I don't miss her because I never knew her. The only time I get upset is when we go to visit my mum's grave. It's very pretty, with a white headstone, with the words Beloved Wife and Daughter in curly writing. Gran always arranges freesias in a little vase. They're my mum's favourite flowers. I can't help thinking about my poor mum underneath the pink and yellow flowers and the white headstone in the dark, dirty earth. There are worms. I hate thinking about my mum being buried.
I try to imagine her alive instead. I'll tell you a very private secret. I sometimes talk about my mum to Mabel, because Mabel doesn't ever get upset.
I talk and talk and talk about my mum. Mabel listens. When she's not asleep.'
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