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Literature / Dustbin Baby

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A 2001 novel by Jacqueline Wilson, about April, a girl who was abandoned in a dustbin behind a pizza restaurant minutes after being born. Even though she's now settled in a good home with a loving foster parent, Marion, she can't help but wonder why her birth mother didn't want her. Especially on her birthday. After getting into an argument with Marion over a birthday present, she decides to skip school to revisit all the homes she's lived in, leading back to the first home she ever knew - the dustbin.

The book was adapted into TV movie starring Dakota Blue Richards in 2008.


This book and film provide examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Big Mo and Little Pete are completely blind to the fact sweet little Pearl is actually a bully who likes to torture April.
    • The guy in Sunnybank tasked with watching the entries and sorties is sleeping while duty, allowing Gina and her friends to go burgle nearby houses.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Destroying April's paper dolls. Pearl learned this the hard way.
    • Abandonment becomes one for April in the movie. She storms away when Marion says she's going to retire from teaching, because that means leaving the school and therefore her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Everyone in the foster home was shocked and surprised that April would push Pearl down the stairs. What they didn't know was Pearl had been bullying April nonstop for months.
  • Birthday Hater: Guess who.
  • Bittersweet Ending: April did not find her birth mother and probably never will. But she did find the man who found her and has realized how much Marion loves her.
  • The Cameo: Tanya from Bad Girls, another Wilson novel, makes an appearance.
    • Elaine, Tracy Beaker's social worker also appears, and mentions that one of her clients has been fostered by a single woman, likely referring to Cam fostering Tracy.
  • Deliberately Cute Child:
    • Pearl acts this way in front of the carers, so as to hide her sadistic streak.
    • April plays up her cuteness at Sunnybank so Gina and the other older kids will like her more.
  • Doorstop Baby: April was left in a dustbin.
  • Driven to Suicide: April's adoptive mother commmitted suicide in the bathtub after her husband left her.
  • Dustbin School: After being discovered aiding and abetting Gina with her burglaries, April is sent to Fairgate, where are sent girls with issues such as anorexia, Down syndrome or general behavioural problems.
  • Happily Adopted: April was this with her adoptive family, until her parents split up and her mother killed herself.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Being very young at the time, April doesn't understand what happened to her mum until years later.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Pearl. To insane levels. Her idea of playing "Mermaids" during bath time is holding April under the water until she goes limp.
  • Meaningful Name: April was born and found on April Fools Day.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • April is first abandonned in a dustbin when she was a baby.
    • Mr. Johnson, Her first adoptive father send her back to the social services after his wife Janet commited suicide.
    • Gina has to give her first child for adoption after she was found unfit.
  • Technology Marches On: Early in the book, April has a tantrum because Marian won't buy her a mobile phone for her birthday, which is treated like an expensive, outlandish commodity, whereas now they are now only extremely common but children much younger than April use them, so it seems far more like Marian is being stubbornly anti-technology than April is being materialistic, though April's delivery of her complaints still need work.


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