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Julia Gillian (and The Art Of Knowing) Hardcover – June 1, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 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-mâché 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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. Grades 3-5. --Bina Williams
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Series: Julia Gillian (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545033489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545033480
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,620,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
All summer, almost-fifth-grader Julia Gillian tries her hardest to avoid reading a book about a boy and his dog because she assumes it will have a unhappy ending. After all, it seems as though dogs don't often survive those stories - Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, etc. She doesn't want to think about such things, especially because she has a pet dog, Bigfoot, who is her constant companion. Though she's good at doing things, she really doesn't want to read that particular book, but procrastination and avoidance just stress her out!

Julia is a fun character. I love her curious nature. She has a great sense of loyalty. She's surrounded by artsy-cool folks, like her parents and her neighbors, two of which are siblings: her former baby-sitter, now a hip young woman she looks up to, and her brother the baker, who makes tasty and interesting treats. As she walks around Minneapolis, you can tell that she is totally comfortable in her city and in her home. She's totally a city girl, but she acts her age - not overly precocious, not at all naive, definitely and firmly her age, and always curious and questioning.

This is the first in a trilogy. I'll definitely be reading the next two books to see what else happens to Julia, and I'll continue to read Alison McGhee's other books as well. I have enjoyed her previous novels, like Shadow Baby, Snap, and Falling Boy, and there seems yet to be an audience for which she can't write successfully!
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Format: Hardcover
While I can understand the "senseless" part of another review posted here, I actually sort of liked this book. My 4th grader selected this book for a book report so I thought I'd give it a quick read. It's a fast read (thanks to the double spacing of the text on each page) and the illustrations add to the charm of the story. But the story is slight so if you're looking for action and adventure, look elsewhere. However, I thought there were a lot of great themes throughout the book. I could relate to Julia Gillian and her fears and worries. I think a lot of kids worry about the things she does, especially in these uncertain times. But the ending is hopeful... and I for one am looking forward to reading more about Julia Gillian in the future.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Book came a described. Was dissapointed in the packaging though -was dropped inbox with many other items so it was damaged when I got it-also the shipper left it out in the rain so the items in the box were wet and warped....
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.

Reviewed by: Cat
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book with my granddaughter. She loves dogs and really enjoyed reading the book.
Alison Mcghee lets children know their will be good time and sad time if you own a pet and it is ok to have feelings about them.
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Format: Hardcover
Alison McGhee's JULIA GILLIAN AND THE QUEST FOR JOY tells of a new school year and a best friend who no longer wishes to be best friends. Julia finds life in general harder, and a new lunch monitor is overly strict to top it all off. Black and white illustrations by Drazen Kozjan enhance the story of a girl's tumultuous year. A fine pick for libraries seeking easier stories for elementary-level readers past the picturebook age.
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Format: Hardcover
This was a gift that I got for my niece, who's 11.
She read it cover to cover while staying with me.
She liked it enough that a)she read it instead of watching tv, talking on the phone b) she gave it a big thumbs up when i asked for her reaction.
I read some of it in the store before I got it and loved the way the story reminded me much of my own childhood and the things that go with it. very good choice; glad i got it!
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Format: Hardcover
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.

Reviewed by: Cat
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