McGhee's (Someday) utterly likable title character, nine-year-old Julia Gillian, is good at a number of things: making papier-mâché masks with her own special recipe for flour and water paste, and knowing what her aging St. Bernard, Bigfoot, is trying to say. She has also mastered "the Art of Knowing," the ability to predict the daily routines of those around her. But during her summer break, her teacher parents are busy studying, and are unable to participate in the usual family visits to the water park or dinners at the Quang Restaurant. Ever resourceful, Julia Gillian walks around their Minneapolis neighborhood with Bigfoot, trying to add to her list of accomplishments as she interacts with neighbors and storekeepers. However, "it seemed to be getting harder to master the things she wanted to master. Was this, too, something that happened when you got older?'" And then there is the matter of "the green book" that her parents want her to finish reading. Her Art of Knowing has made Julia Gillian think that the book, about a dog just one year older than Bigfoot, might end unhappily, and the thought of finishing it scares her. Although at times her voice reads a little young, Julia Gillian's fears and their ultimate resolution are very relatable. The book is well paced, laced with line drawings that capture Julia Gillian's slightly whimsical personality, and overall as satisfying as the strawberry bubble tea served at the Quang Restaurant. Ages 9-12. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Julia Gillian (and the Art of Knowing)by Alison McGhee
Ten-year-old Julia Gillian knows everything about her quirky neighbors, her Minneapolis neighborhood, even the inscrutable "claw machine" in the back of the corner hardware store. The one thing Julia Gillian doesn't know is how the book she's reading is going to end. It doesn't seem as if it's going to have a happy ending, and that scares her. But Julia learns a… See more details below
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Ten-year-old Julia Gillian knows everything about her quirky neighbors, her Minneapolis neighborhood, even the inscrutable "claw machine" in the back of the corner hardware store. The one thing Julia Gillian doesn't know is how the book she's reading is going to end. It doesn't seem as if it's going to have a happy ending, and that scares her. But Julia learns a little something about fear: sometimes you just have to work through it. And though bad things do happen sometimes, having good friends and family around you makes life a bit less scary - and much more fun.
Julia Gillian, 10, prides herself on knowing about a lot of things in this novel (Scholastic, 2008) by Alison McGhee. Her parents, distressed that she is not an avid reader, insist that she finish reading the dreaded "green book" that she knows will end sadly with the death of an old dog. Since her own dog, Bigfoot, is getting on in years, it frightens Julia that the book won't have a happy conclusion. With the help of a neighbor, Julia learns that everyone has fears and her own can be overcome. The girl's interactions with neighbors and storeowners comprise most of the action. Julia Gillian's character is a bit arch, and she is able to overcome her fears a bit too suddenly. Narrator Emily Bauer is adept at sounding exactly like a young girl. She captures the fear, defiance, sadness, and eventual acceptance that Julia Gillian experiences. Her skillful narration makes the listening experience more satisfying than reading the book.-B. Allison Gray, Santa Barbara City Library, CA
Meet the Author
Alison McGhee is the author of numerous award-winning books for young readers and adults, including the New York Times bestseller, Someday, illustrated by Peter Reynolds. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her family. You can visit her at www.alisonmcghee.com.
Drazen Kojzan is the illustrator of several books for children, including Diary of a Fairy Godmother by Esmé Raji Codell, and How to Tame a Bully by Nancy Wilcox Richards. He lives in Ontario, Canada with his family. You can visit him at www.drazenkozjan.com.
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