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Dustbin Baby

The book cover

Dustbin Baby (2001) is a children's novel by English author Jacqueline Wilson. The story focuses on April, a fourteen-year-old girl who was abandoned by her mother in a dustbin when she was only a few minutes old. After a row with her foster mother, she goes in search of her past. The book was adapted into a film in 2008 by the BBC.

When she was a few minutes old, April was abandoned by her mother in a dustbin behind a local pizza restaurant. She was discovered by a young waiter there and named April by the hospital as she was found on April Fool's Day. She was fostered by Patricia Williams, but only lived with her a short time before being adopted. April's first stop on her fourteenth birthday is Pat's house. She finds that she remembers little of it and Pat remembers little of her. However she does befriend one of Patricia's new foster children, a teenager named Tanya - a character seen before along with Pat in another of Jacqueline Wilson's books, Bad Girls.

April then visits the graveside of her adoptive mother, Janet Johnston. Janet and Daniel Johnson adopted April when she was a year old, and gave her their surname Johnson. Janet committed suicide a few years after adopting April, while battling depression stemming from her husband's affairs and the break-up of her marriage. This deeply upset April, as she had loved her adoptive mother, and hated her adoptive father for being cruel to her, and that she could be so easily won over by him.

April briefly lived with her adoptive father, and his new partner Sylvia. However, the relationship ends when the three of them move back to the old house, and Daniel calls Sylvia "April's new mummy", which Sylvia makes clesr she does not want to be. He then hires a student named Jennifer to look after April while he's at work. One night, April screams 'MUMMY' repeatedly while in the bathroom, haunted by her mothers death, and mopes about from then on.

Eventually becoming fed up with her, Daniel puts April back into care.

April is taken into another foster home run by Maureen and Peter (Big Mo and Little Pete to their friends). It was mainly boys with only one other girl to begin with, a young woman named Esmé who had Downs Syndrome. April befriended her, as Esmé was still like a little girl due to her disabilty. Soon after, they fostered another girl named Pearl, who bullied April from day one, while cunningly making it look as if April and her were the best of friends. The final straw came when Pearl destroyed Aprils paper dolls, and April snapped and pushed Pearl down the stairs, putting her in hospital. This leads to April being removed from the home after Pearl tells Big Mo what happened (but clearly having omitted why April had done it).

April subsequently tells readers of the time she lived a residential care home called Sunnybank Children's Home, run by a man and woman, Billy and Lulu respectively. Here, April is befriended by a much older girl called Gina, who gets Barbie dolls to replace Aprils paper dolls after seeing her upset about them. But, sooner or later, Gina calls upon April to "help" her friends in a series of burglaries after dark. Eventually, they get caught, and April ks moved on, as is Gina.

When April revisited Sunnybank, the young woman running it now tells her that Gina lives nearby, and is given her address. April goes to visit Gina, and Gina recognises her right away, and its revealed that in spite of everything, she had turned her life around, and now runs a workshop, and had her own flat and a toddler son. April is happy for her, saying that Gina is a great mum, and wonders if her mum ever got a second chance like Gina has.

After leaving Sunnybank, April was taken to Fairleigh, a boarding school for learning-impaired children. Here April stayed for five years and formed a close bond with her history teacher Miss Marion Bean, and a friendship with a young girl called Poppy, who has Down's Syndrome. Marion begins to bond with April and refers her to be moved to a mainstream school. Here April make new friends, Hannah and Cathy, and Marion with the help of social worker Elaine (which could be a reference to Tracy Beaker's social worker) decides to foster her.

The story ends with April meeting the pizza boy, Frankie, who discovered her in the dustbin the day she was born and resolving the fight she had with Marion at the start of the story...