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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.


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