Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Julia Gillian (And the Art of Knowing)

Julia Gillian (And the Art of Knowing)

Alison McGhee
Illustrator:  Drazen Kozjan 
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Scholastic, 2009   ISBN: 978-0545033497

Julia Gillian is usually very happy with her life. Her parents are quite understanding, and they are generally behave in a very satisfactory fashion in the parenting department. In addition, Julia Gillian has her beloved dog, Bigfoot, to share her life with her. Bigfoot can always be relied on to be understanding and loving. Julia Gillian has many accomplishments to take pride in, though there is one thing that she does not like to do; she does not like to read. She sees how depressed her parents get when they read the newspaper, and she worries that books are going to have bad endings. Julia Gillian does not like sad endings and therefore she does not like to read.

This summer is not working out as it should and Julia is not her usual happy self. For one thing, Julia Gillian's parents are busy studying so that they can be better teachers. They are therefore not available for picnics and other summer activities. Then there is the fact that Julia Gillian has a book that she needs to read. Julia Gillian is convinced that something terrible is going to happen to the dog in the story, and she does not want to find out what that is. It does not matter that her parents want her to read – Julia Gillian is determined not to do so.

It is often hard to accept that life is not always going to work out the way you want it to. For a child it is particularly difficult to come to terms with this fact. In this warm and delightfully unique book, Alison McGhee explores the idea that facing things that you don't like takes courage, and that courage comes in all forms. Sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet and hope for the best. If you do, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.