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Julia Gillian (and the Art of Knowing)

Julia Gillian (and the Art of Knowing)

4.9 11
by Alison McGhee

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A new middle-grade heroine is born! The first story in an extraordinary new series by a New York Times best-selling author.

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


A new middle-grade heroine is born! The first story in an extraordinary new series by a New York Times best-selling author.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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)

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Children's Literature - Renee Farrah
Julia Gillian has been enjoying her summer break by admiring her list of accomplishments. Her proudest accomplishment is her grasp of the Art of Knowing. This art is Julia's ability to predict outcomes based on her observations, such as what will be shown in a window display or where her parents are in their daily routine. The Art of Knowing provides Julia with stability and comfort during her everyday life. But when she starts to read a new book, her observation skills point in the direction of an unhappy ending. Now she must decide whether to set the book aside and never finish it or to continue reading even if her worst fears are confirmed. She looks toward family and friends to help her choose, but she realizes it is ultimately her choice. The book has a nice pace and creates a pleasant world but seems to come to a resolution quickly. Reviewer: Renee Farrah
School Library Journal

Gr 3-5

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

Kirkus Reviews
Nine-year-old Julia Gillian goes out of her way to avoid unhappy endings. Fortunately there's a lot for Julia Gillian to be happy about, including her growing list of such personal accomplishments as making papier-mache masks, spreading her gum evenly across her top row of teeth and her skill at the "art of knowing." Julia Gillian lives in a south Minneapolis apartment with her good-natured schoolteacher parents and her beloved St. Bernard, Bigfoot. Normally they spend summer vacations doing special things like visiting the water park and picnicking at Lake Harriet Rose Garden, but this summer her parents are busy studying, leaving Julia Gillian on her own. Even though she loves walking Bigfoot and visiting her neighbors, the resourceful Julia Gillian can't help thinking about the book with the unhappy ending she's afraid to finish. Decorated with Kozjan's swiftly drawn vignettes, the straightforward text, packed with daily details, seems directly descended from Beverly Cleary's works. A fresh, winsome heroine learns a lesson about facing her fears in this first of an anticipated series. (Fiction. 7-10)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Julia Gillian Series
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.20(d)
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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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Julia Gillian (and the Dream of the Dog) 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book. I couldn't even put this marvelous and intriguing book down. My only complaint is there is only 3 books in the series. It is a book perfect for hiding under your pillow and reading late at night. it is one of those books you can read over and over again. i absulutly adored it.
Mom99 More than 1 year ago
This book is great. Very appropriate for children specially 5th graders. I read some of this to my daughter and she read some herself. I was excited to see it take place in Minnesota! As I was reading it I guessed from the lake mentioned it was in Minneapolis. This book is nicely written no foul language. Very highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's one of my favorite books! I love it! You should totally read it!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Julia Gillian is quite accomplished for a nine-year-old. Thus far she's mastered the art of making papier-mâché masks, spreading her gum evenly across her teeth, and knowing exactly what her dog, Bigfoot, is saying even though he doesn't speak "human." Though she hasn't yet conquered the claw machine at Bryant Hardware by grabbing the stuffed meerkat, Julia keeps her skills sharp every Friday and Sunday afternoon during her walks around the neighborhood with Bigfoot. By far and away though, Julia Gillian's greatest skill is the art of knowing. For instance: she knows what her mother's making for breakfast before entering the kitchen, she knows the newspaper is full of nothing but bad news, and thirty-six pages into her new green book from Quinn Booksellers, she *knows* the story isn't going to end well. Set in Minneapolis, JULIA GILLIAN (AND THE ART OF KNOWING) is a down-to-earth story featuring a precocious young girl's struggle figuring out how to deal with the unsettling realities life (sometimes) presents. A few people might object to Julia's lack of summertime playmates, especially living in a large city; having grown up an only child, though, I can attest to the challenges of ferreting out peers. Alison McGhee gives children an intelligent and determined central character dealing with relatable problems in an honest, straightforward narrative. I'm definitely setting this one aside to pass on to my nieces.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You should really read this book. She has a first name for a first name and a first name for a last name. Just like me. My name is Jocelyn Isabella. READ IT OR ELSE!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very unusual in the way that the characters and ideas fit together. I was absorbed in the book and look forward to reading the next book but also was confused on the point.