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on 9 April 2001
This is a very sad and difficult book to read because it deals with an unpleasant situation. It is about a little girl called Tulip who suffers mental and physical cruelty at home which no-one can stop happening. Her continued bad behaviour is a cry for help which is not answered and over several years she became mentally ill.
The story is written through the eyes of her best friend Natalie.It starts with Natalie's family moving in to a new area and running a hotel. Natalie is lonely and sees Tulip with a kitten in a field. Tulip is hesitant to speak but decides to be friends with Natalie. No-one questioned why, except police officer Stallworthy who later wondered what Tulip saw in Natalie. Everyone else shuns Tulip who rarely attended school an was always difficult and unpleasant. Natalie's mum states 'She's bright enough to see tha if people like her go around exactly what they want, everyone's miserable.'
The whole book becomes more uncomfortable and sinister. Natalie is banned from visiting Tulip's house. she visits once but is very frightened by what she sees and the odd behaviour of Tulip's parents especially her father who is a vindictive bully.
Natalie's father summed her up when he said "to really know right from wrong you need a certain emotional sympathy, and you learn that from being treated properly yourself." "If you've been brought up as if your feelings don't matter, you probably assume other people's don't matter much either."
Tulip spends as much time as possible with Natalie to escape her home, but the games they play are always weird such as Havoc, Road of Bones or Stinking Mackerel. Natalie's little brother Julius was often the but of these games and he got very scared and frightened by them. Gradually the games became wilder and more frightening. First Tulip favoured dustbin fires but slowly she switched to annoying neighbours, menacing bereaved parents, fellow pupils, terrorizing pets and leaving dead animals in cages.
No-one ever seemed to stop her or help her situation, so the darker side inside Tulip surfaced. As Natalie said "In her(Tulip's) eyes it was the world that was wrong. If the world had only been right, if things had only fallen out the way they should then she would never have to lie, or steal or be spiteful."
Natalie realises that Tulip is out of control and becomes so frightened she backs away and concentrates on her schoolwork. This disturbs Tulip who cannot handle the rejection and ends up burning down the hotel in an act of revenge. The book leaves a sense of sadness and guilt that no-one had really tried to reach out and help Tulip.Natalie sums it up "Each horrible thing that happens makes a difference and there have been too many of those in Tulip's life."
I did not enjoy this book because it made feel uncomfortable. It is well written because youm never know what is happening in Tulip's life which adds to the suspense. Don't read this book before bed time because you will never sleep!!!!!
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on 25 January 2010
I first read this book when i was in primary school and it has remained in my bookcase ever since. It is a fascinating albeit harrowing book to read, but i think it is an important book - even more so in the light of current events with recent goings on with 'The devil Boys'.
The story centres around Natalie Barnes, whose family have taken over the local Hotel. Natalie meets the enigmatic and strange creature Tulip Pierce. Tulip quickly draws Natalie to her and the two engage in various games,such as stinking makerel and road of bones, which become progessively more disturbing and dark - along with Tulips behaviour. Natalie tries to distance herself from Tulip, but she finds that she cant, as Tulip prays on her mind constantly.
This then is where we uncover the story of Tulips background. We see a child who has suffered all manner of physical and, it is strongly implied, sexual abuse at the hands of her violent father. There is one disturbing point where there is a story of a child who had drowned and Tulip takes a perverse interest in it, and she even pays visits to the family to the dead girl for her own amusement.
The story is important because Anne Fine, through this book, makes the point that Tulip could be any child at all, but that because of the life she had and abuse she got at home, presumably from an early age, she did the things she did in the book. The book also has lessons which we can learn in cases such as that of 'The Devil Boys' in England, or indeed the case of Mary Bell, since they too are a product of their hellish upbringing. As the cover of the book itself says, No one is born evil. No one.
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on 6 January 2006
The concept of what is evil has always been of interest to me. I find the idea that someone can be evil and someone else is not when we are all brought up in the same world fascinating. This is the central idea for Anne Fine's children's/teen novel.
Natalie is new at school and makes friends with Tulip - but Tulip isn't all she seems. Okay, a lame sum up but you've read other reviews and know what this book is about.
The story is so simply told and it is a simple storyline. Nothing is sensationalised, it is all very gentle. The ending is just perfect too, it's just what I wanted.
This is a bittersweet novel that appears to be just a kid's book with nothing but light entertainment to offer but it is so much more than that. It still affects me now. Get it!
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on 9 April 2001
Its brilliant and mesmerizing. When you start reading the book you'll just get sucked in and you wont be able to put it down. I'm glad that this book is on the reading list at our school because kids between 12-15 should read it. I don't think that you could find a child like tulip in the world because a lot of perants care too much about thier children these days. This book is about a girl, Natalie, who becomes friends with tulip because she feel sorry for her, as they become beter friends tulip starts playing more dangerous and dareing
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on 23 April 2001
The Tulip Touch was a strange book, it was a different style of book than I had read before. It made you feel at the start anything could happen. Especially as it says in the blurb 'Nathalie knows Tulip won't stop until she has won the most dangerous game of all'. The book made me sometimes feel I didn't know what was going on as it would go from one thing to another which I found very confusing - this is one of the main reasons that I did not enjoy The Tulip Touch. The reason I carried on reading The Tulip Touch was because it kept you guessing and it made you want to know what happened next. When I first looked at the cover of The Tulip Touch I thought that it was going to be a very strange book, firstly because of the title and secondly because of the eye it has on it. Although I did not enjoy this book I think that if you like reading books about mysteries this would be a good book to read whether you're a girl or boy. After reading The Tulip Touch I would like to read some of Anne Fine's other books, such as 'Flower Babies' and 'Step by Wicked Step'.
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on 31 August 2000
This book is quite simply the best book I have ever read aimed at a child audience on the difficult subject of abuse and parental derelication of responsibility. It is a chilling read - never graphic, but all the more sinister for the way it implies the despair - , and bravely and rightly asks children to put themselves in the main character's position constantly. What would I do about Tulip? Could I make a difference? Should I even try?
And at the centre of the book is Tulip herself, surely one of the most fascinating characters to appear in any children's novel. She has so many aspects - a richly imagined, complex, irrational, sometimes appealing and sometimes frightening character. Fine manages to make us believe in her and sympathise so much with her plight.
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on 16 November 2003
i found the Tulip Touch quite an unpredictable book. My first impressions of Tulip were that she was a strange girl. When Tulip was first introduced she was in a middle of a field holding a kitten with its eyes still closed. It was there Natalie first met Tulip. When it was time for school the next day Natalie was in the playground and she saw Tulip by the fence. She wallked up to Tulip and said "Do you want to be friends." I felt quite sorry for Tulip as apart from Natalie, Tulip had no friends. But later on in the book the tables turned and it was Natalie who I felt sorry for. Tulip had a strong hold on Natalie and could make her do things she would never even dream of. The more Tulip was with Natalie the more Natalie would get into trouble. Until one day there friendship ended and when Natalie did something she shouldn't have done to Tulip. It was then Tulip acted in a most alarming way.
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on 29 April 2015
I only read this book for the first time recently (in an afternoon in fact) as I'd somehow missed this as a child. This is a genuinely sinister book. The characters are exceptionally well drawn. You can easily see why Natalie is drawn to the clever, creative Tulip. At first it seems an innocent if somewhat controlling friendship but as Tulip's games become subtly nastier and more callous Natalie has to fight to break free of Tulip's hold on her. I can't really do this book justice. Everyone should try it. My heart was in my throat as it rushed to its conclusion. The reader is left with a slightly uncomfortable feeling and the question, if you turn a blind eye when you know harm is being done are you as guilty as the perpetrator? Could anyone have helped Tulip in any case? I'd have given this more stars if I could.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 September 2009
Winner of the Carnegie Children's Book of the Year for 1996, this story concerns Natalie, daughter of a hotel proprietor and her friendship with Tulip of the title. Tulip has an awful home-life and at first Natalie's parents encourage their friendship. But they don't really know what the girls are getting up to together. They play some rather silly games, such as `Stinky Mackeral' where the idea is to pretend that somebody smells, without actually saying so to their face. They also play games that have a more dangerous flavour, one of which involves them knocking on a door at random and making up a story that will get them inside the house. But the game that breaks up the friendship and leads Natalie to worry for her own and her family's safety is setting fire to dustbins or old sheds.

Natalie breaks away from Tulip, but Tulip has one last awful game that she's determined to play. Introduce your pre-teen daughters to some excellent writing today by giving them this book.
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on 3 October 2013
A very interesting book about friendship and innocence. A little upsetting in parts for younger readers and the character of Tulip reminds me of the awful story of Mary Bell. Reading this book as an adult you can appreciate the difficulties of the character of Tulip and her home life and understand the reasons for her behaviour. Certainly not a fun story and quite unsettling but nevertheless I wanted to read to the end to see what happens. Great characters, very real situations and lots of empathy for the protagonist 'Natalie' as she slowly starts to grow up and grow out of her friendship with her self-destructive friend.
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