Anne Fine’s The Tulip Touch is a brilliant insight in to child friendship, influence and manipulation. Natalie is a young girl whose family run hotels. Upon moving to a hotel in a new area Natalie meets Tulip, a mysterious, remote girl who initially creates great intrigue, soon leading to dark, frightening behaviour. Natalie finds herself following Tulip’s lead despite her own misgivings, partaking in acts which isolate her from the rest of her peers.
As Natalie discovers more of Tulip’s unfortunate home life and apparent unhappiness, she finds herself ever more faithful to her friend, albeit out of pity more so than out of solid friendship. Eventually their relationship becomes less agreeable and through observing a sinister array of doings on Tulip’s part, Natalie soon realises she cannot befriend her any longer and begins to separate herself.
Had she foreseen the consequences of her actions, perhaps Natalie would have thought again……
The Tulip Touch provides an insight for children to view the effects certain friendship groups can have, as well as exploring the behaviour of their peers. Why does this person behave in this manner? Is there something in their personal life which could contribute? It is also a book about considering one’s own actions and therefore provides an informative, life-learning, exciting read.
Due to the messages in this book and the sinister nature of the character Tulip, I would recommend this book to children in secondary education, specifically years 8 or 9.
Nobody is really interested in Tulip or wants to be associated with her, however, Natalie finds her intriguing, exciting and can’t help but want to spend time with her. She seems unphased at first by Tulip’s games and is soon sucked into them. It isn’t long, however, until Tulip starts taking her games a little too far as she becomes wilder and more outlandish. In the end, Natalie begins to realise that she really has gone a step too far with her antics and tries her best to dissociate herself from Tulip destructive ways.
I found Tulip Touch an extremely powerful book; I simply couldn’t put it down. It is narrated by Natalie who first meets Tulip at the age of 10 and is drawn in by her straight away. It is fascinating how, in spite of all her bizarre and at times extremely cruel behaviour, Natalie is totally taken in by Tulip. Tulip turns into a real bully who appears to have a total lack of morals, respect for authority and respect for others. This story really provokes readers to think about the impact and dangers of peer pressure and it conveys just how easily an individual can be influenced by it. Furthermore, it also tackles the ‘nature vs. nurture’ argument and really makes the reader consider the effects that Tulip’s upbringing may have had upon her. Anne Fine sympathetically addresses the damaging effects that an upbringing with little parental care can have upon a child and how it can seriously impact upon their behaviour and morals.
I think that Anne Fine conveys an extremely strong message about the importance of getting yourself out of a situation where someone is being so destructive and violent before you get caught up in it too. I think that it would be a brilliant book to look at when looking at character development in literacy lessons or addressing topics such as peer pressure and bullying in PSHE sessions.
This book looks at the weird and wonderful ideas and actions of Tulip through the eyes of her friend Natalie. The girls attend the same school and enjoy a close friendship, much to the dismay of Natalie’s parents and teachers. Tulip likes to test boundaries, both at school and within her friendship with Natalie. Their friendship is tested on the greatest level when Tulip takes her pranks to extreme heights and sets fire to a shed. Although Natalie knows that this behaviour is wrong, she still does not tell the police about Tulips actions.
The book looks at several different areas including how children’s home lives can impact on their everyday lives, as well as the importance of not just standing by and watching when you know that somebody is in difficulty. Some warnings to look out for, depending on the class that you are teaching, are that there are some references made to the devil and that there is a chapter about the main characters (children) killing animals.
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Recommended age group:
10+ years old