Isla's afternoon tea with Jacqueline Wilson

We granted 9-year-old budding author Isla's wish to meet her heroes Jacqueline Wilson & illustrator Ali Pye.

Meet Isla

Nine-year-old Isla is a huge bookworm, and dreams of being an author and illustrator when she grows up. When she was eight, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. “My treatment meant I didn’t go to school for nearly a year, and I didn’t get to see my friends,” she says. “I wasn’t even allowed to go to the hospital playrooms with other children, and I couldn’t see my little sister.”

Isla’s family were introduced to Rays of Sunshine early on in her treatment. Isla says she felt “excited” when she found out she’d be allowed a wish. “But at the time, I was still very sick, so we waited to apply for a wish so that I could have something amazing to look forward to when I got through all of my treatment.” Isla says she thought a lot about her wish while she spend weeks in the hospital.

When the time finally came, and she was feeling better, Isla and her mum took their time trying to figure out what she should wish for.

Why Isla chose the wish

In the end, she opted to “go really big”! She wished to meet her two idols: the author Jacqueline Wilson and the illustrator and author Ali Pye.

“I read lots of Jacqueline’s books while I was ill and I love her characters,” says Isla. “And I first heard of Ali Pye because of a tutor I had at home who helped me do school work while I was sick. My mum says she would hear me giggling while I read them in my room. There wasn’t a lot of times to laugh while I was during my treatment, so I really enjoyed Ali’s books.”


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On the day

First on the agenda on her highly-anticipated wish day was afternoon tea with Jacqueline Wilson. “I got to ask Jacqueline lots of different questions. My dream is to write a book, so we talked a lot about how she gets her ideas and she even helped me come up with an ending for the story I’m working on!” says Isla. Even though Isla is still working on her story, she is excited to finish, and plans to send it to Jacqueline when she does.

After tea, Isla and her family were invited to Waterstone in Piccadilly, where Ali Pye hosted an illustration workshop for them. Isla explains: “She helped me to create some drawings for the story I’m writing at the moment – and she taught me how to draw guinea pigs, which are one of our favourite animals!

“Ali got my whole family involved in drawing, and then we put them all together as part of a collage. I really liked the fact my whole family was involved. It is a special memory for me.”

The impact of the wish

To top off her wish, Isla’s Q&A session with Jacqueline was broadcast on CBBC’s Newsround. When the segment aired, her whole school watched. “I felt like I was famous,” Isla says. 

Reflecting on her wish, she finishes: “My wish has made me more determined than ever to be an author and illustrator like Ali and Jacqueline. My illness meant I wasn’t as confident, but I feel a lot better now. I think everyone who can should apply for a wish. I think I’m going to remember that forever.”