School Library Journal - 07/01/2008 Gr 2-5-Nine-year-old Minneapolis resident Julia Gillian leads a comfortable urban life surrounded by caring parents and helpful neighbors. Her parents permit her to be on her own and take a nine-square-block walk for one hour with her devoted dog, Bigfoot. Each day, within these parameters, Julia Gillian explores her world. A pattern of repeated conversations, moods, and outcomes gives the child sufficient information to analyze the behavior of her neighbors, her dog, her parents, and herself. Her list of accomplishments includes making papier-m,chE animal masks and knowing how other people feel. When her parents insist that she finish reading a book about a boy and an old dog, she is sure it will have an unhappy ending and goes to great lengths to avoid it. Her neighbor tells her about her own demons and says that, "Sometimes the only way out is through," and Julia's self-absorption starts to recede as she discovers that she is not alone in being afraid. The illustrations of Julia Gillian's masks and supersize St. Bernard add a whimsical note to the book. Julia Gillian isn't the perky, smart-mouthed heroine one finds in many contemporary books. Instead, she is acutely conscious of achieving a new maturity that allows her to question authority and to assert herself-not bad for a nine-year-old.-Lillian Hecker, Town of Pelham Public Library, NY Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. - Copyright 2008 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 08/01/2008 For nine-year-old Julia Gillian, life in Minneapolis has been nearly perfect. But as the summer progresses, that changes. Her parents are taking summer classes, which means no picnics at the park; the stuffed meerkat that Julia wants to win in the claw machine at the hardware store seems to elude her at every try; and the newspapers her parents read are filled with depressing headlines. And then there’s the book Julia does not want to finish because she suspects it will have an unhappy ending. This gently told tale shows how she learns to deal with these bumps in the road. At times, her parents’ lax attitude toward Julia’s unsupervised wanderings may seem unrealistic, and Julia herself is a bit of an odd duck whose friends are mostly adults (except for one large, loving dog).Yet readers will root for Julia, whose appealing, if quirky, personality comes out in the plentiful sketches as well as the text. The first of an intended series. - Copyright 2008 Booklist.