|Just right Jillian|
Author: Collier, Nicole D.
Fifth-grader Jillian must learn to speak and break free of her shell to enter her school's academic competition and keep her promise to her grandmother.
Kirkus Reviews (12/15/21)
School Library Journal (12/01/21)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/02/22)
The Hornbook (00/01/22)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 11/01/2021 Collier’s poignant #OwnVoices debut introduces readers to Jillian, an intelligent but shy fifth-grader whose doubts about her identity and self-image cloud her path to the brilliant achievements ahead of her. Experiencing bullying and self-doubt, Jillian questions who she is and how others perceive her. When the annual Mind Bender competition arrives, she assumes her class nemesis, Rashida, will win, and when she’s encouraged to try out and show off her knowledge, Jillian’s insecurities rear their heads and cause her to retreat into the background again. Collier captures the perspective of a Black middle-grade wallflower afraid to step into the spotlight, debating whether to combat conformity and reclaim her hobbies of weaving and singing. With the support of a perceptive teacher, encouraging parents, helpful new friends, and unexpected allies, Jillian channels the legacy of her grandmother to stand loud and proud in the classroom. This relatable and emotional novel reminds readers that everyone might be fighting their own private battles and that losing or failing at something doesn’t mean you’re not a winner. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 12/01/2021 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.—Kristin Brynsvold, Tuckahoe Elem. Sch., Arlington, VA - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.