Just Right Jillian

Versify/Clarion/. Feb. 2022. 224p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780358434610.
Gr 4-7–Fifth-grader Jillian dislikes standing out so much that she ends up losing a class competition, because winning would mean drawing attention to herself. When the opportunity comes up for her to compete in the school-wide Mind Bender competition, Jillian thinks she’d better skip it—but what if being invisible isn’t what she wants, after all? With the help of her loving parents, supportive teacher, and some surprising new friends, Jillian discovers she is so much more than she ever knew. Jillian perfectly encapsulates the contradicting feelings of adolescence, and her attempts to forge her own path and find her identity will be instantly relatable to anyone who has ever felt shy or small. Different aspects of the story work together to drive the plot and create well-developed supporting characters who bring their own challenges and subplots. Readers will particularly enjoy the plot line of Jillian’s class incubating eggs, and they will delight in seeing how the hatching chicks are a metaphor for Jillian’s own emergence from her shell. Jillian is Black, and the vast majority of her classmates and neighbors are BIPOC.
VERDICT Readers will feel a fast kinship with Jillian, who is right at home in any library seeking authentic coming-of-age stories about developing self-confidence.

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