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Just Right Jillian

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Fifth grader Jillian will do anything to blend in. But after a bully says she can never be a winner, she sets out to win her school’s biggest battle of wits. Unfortunately, breaking out of her shell is easier said than done. Jillian has less than a month to overcome a lifetime of shyness and summon the courage to speak up for herself—or lose her only chance to win.

First published February 1, 2022

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Nicole D. Collier

5 books40 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 128 reviews
Profile Image for Darla.
3,348 reviews526 followers
January 26, 2022
This story about Jillian has JTRA (Just The Right Amount) of heart, science, and inner strength. And that cover -- such a great preview for the book inside. Jillian is in the 5th grade and still misses her Grammy who died on May Day last year. As the anniversary of that sad day approaches, Jillian is determined to overcome her tendency to stay in the background. As a natural introvert, I found Jillian's voice to be spot on. While Jillian is working on breaking out of her shell, there are ten eggs in her classroom showing her the way. I loved all the scientific details about what happens inside an egg as the chick develops and prepares to break out. Those chicks give Jillian confidence for a school competition just like her story will for those who read it. Another delightful piece of the story was Jillian's relationship to her parents. Jillian's mom has lupus, so this book also shines a light on how a family works through the struggles of unpredictable illness. Classrooms doing science units with live eggs should consider adding this in as a read aloud.

Thank you to Versify and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Tina Loves To Read.
2,456 reviews1 follower
August 4, 2022
This is a Middle Grade. I found this book just ok. I have to say that the main character, Jillian drove me crazy. I do understand what this book was doing but it just was not for me. I received an ARC of this book. This review is my own honest opinion about the book like all my reviews are.
January 31, 2022
This is such an uplifting, sweet, and heartfelt book. I loved it! It is incredible to see Jillian come into her own. Jillian has lost her grandma and is grieving that loss. Her grandmother always told her she was fine the way she was and had a fierce warrior inside her. So, when a big competition called Mind Bender comes up, her teacher wants her to give it a try. Jillian is a really smart 5th grader, but when put on the spot she freezes and can’t always come up with the answer even though deep down she knows it. It’s really all about trying that counts and Jillian starts to get support from unexpected friends and her wonderful family. Maybe, she does have what it takes and should join. As her friend, Marquez points out, everyone has something. It was great the way the life cycle of fertilized eggs eventually turnings into chicks played such a role in the story. I really enjoyed this part. This parallels Jillian’s life so well. Her chick is a late bloomer and all the conditions must be right for a chick to break free of the egg and live in the outside world. Can Jillian use this to help her do the same? The cover is fantastic, it absolutely captures the story. So, for all the shy girls, this is a time to understand that you are Just Right and can realize your dreams just like everyone else.

I would recommend this to children from 3rd to 6th grade. I think most would relate to and enjoy this book. It’s a great read for an adult, too.

Thank you NetGalley, Nicole D. Collier, and Clarion Books for an ARC of this terrific book.
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 3 books392 followers
January 8, 2021
What an absolutely perfect time for JUST RIGHT JILLIAN to be making her way into the world... because the world could sure use some more Jillians right now. I’m so grateful to Nicole Collier and to Versify for the advanced review copy.

Jillian is a super smart fifth-grader who hasn’t quite broken out of her shell yet. But she’s tired of shyness holding her back and decides to train her heart to be brave. I so wish I could quote from an uncorrected proof, because this book provides inspiration on every single page. From Jillian’s class project (incubating eggs until the chicks are finally ready to break out of their own shells) to her love of weaving (handed down by her late grandmother, who inspired her to be courageous) to her friendship with the endearing and encouraging Marquez, Jillian’s story will make you want to speak up. It will make you want to be yourself. It will make you want to live your life without fear, expressing the joy and brilliance that’s inside you, just waiting to hatch.
Profile Image for Rosh.
1,443 reviews1,379 followers
February 17, 2022
Ok, I confess. What first attracted me to this book was the cover. It's one of the cutest cover illustrations I've seen in ages and I couldn't resist going for it.

(How I wish the ARC came with all the illustrations! I'm sure I've missed out on some absolutely adorable sketches.)

Just Right Jillian tells us of a little 5th grader, the eponymous Jillian, who is painfully shy, more so after the death of her beloved grandmother. Her parents nurture her with love and care, but she still can't get out of her shell. But when her teacher makes her participate in the Mind Bender competition, she has no choice but to start breaking through her shyness and reveal her true personality.

There are many elements I liked in the story: the emotional upheaval after the death of a relative, the value of friendship, the importance of making the first move and speaking up for yourself, tackling shyness, being okay about wearing glasses, not judging anyone without complete information,... All are factors that would be wonderful and motivating for children. Furthermore, I loved how the book uses the metaphor of the chicks and their hatching process to demonstrate how Jillian too sheds off her shell.

The characters are loveable. Right from the parents to the teachers to the friends, everyone has a role to play in Jillian's life and in teaching her something. Jillian too is a great lead character. I adored how she let her individuality shine in spite of her shy demeanor and the pressure to follow the herd mentality.

Where the book could have done better was in making the story crisper. It seemed very repetitive and slow-going at times. Plus, a couple of plot points towards the end were simply unrealistic. But it's a children's story so all's well that ends well.

It is a book with fun and important life lessons, and I'd definitely recommend it to all children. Well-suited for 8+ independent readers .

I received an Advanced Review Copy of the book for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun.
Profile Image for Shawn Peters.
Author 2 books58 followers
March 25, 2021
Am I allowed to say this redefines "MG Chick Lit?" It is impossible to NOT be rooting for Jillian from the very first pages of this hopeful, humorous and so-human MG book. In her debut, Nicole D. Collier crafts a story that rises and falls, just like Jillian's own confidence, weaving in tangible metaphor in every chapter as her main character grows, develops and breaks out, just like the incubating eggs in her classroom. But it's the wonder she feels each time she realizes that she is not invisible and that those around her not only see her, but value her, that provides regular doses of irrepressible smiles and the occasional happy tear. "Just Right Jillian" is a wonderful book that touches on anxiety, chronic family illness, grief, friendship and it's perfect for shy students who dream of a little bit more courage in their daily lives and their classmates who might mistake shyness for desired isolation.
September 8, 2022
I really enjoyed this book!
Young Jillian is very smart and pulls high grades in school. That is, on written work. When called upon in class, Jillian always has nerve-wracking performance anxiety, even when she’s sure of the answers. When her teacher asks her to join a school team for the annual Mind-Benders competition, Jillian is shocked. Her teacher knows about her stage-fright; why in the world does she expect Jillian to compete in front of people? What if her answers aren’t “right?”

I can relate well to Jillian. My “performance anxiety” got to the point where spelling bees and piano competitions became impossible for me; I would absolutely freeze on the spot. Even making eye contact with others was difficult; people would tease and tell me they had no idea what color my eyes were. My college speech class was torture. After I became an elementary school teacher, I discovered

that I could relax and be myself around my students. If I acted silly, they joined in, and if I made
mistakes, they loved me anyway!
The sub-plot about the incubating chickens and the chapter illustrations also added greatly to the story!
Profile Image for Jenny Lussier.
75 reviews8 followers
February 1, 2021
Happy #bookbirthday in 1 year! Oh this book brought me back to my past! Jillian is an amazing kid but has trouble speaking up. It takes a school competition and a promise to her grandmother to help her show everyone who she really is inside. This is a story full of friendship and family, with good times and lots of challenges. This book will definitely resonate with kids in grades 3-6. I think Nicole Collier got her character’s voices just right! This book arrives Feb. 1, 2022. Thank you to @netgalley and @hmhkids @diversifybooks for this digital arc. @EssentialCoco
Profile Image for Alysa.
Author 3 books94 followers
March 12, 2021
JUST RIGHT JILLIAN is far more than just right. It's heartfelt and heart building!

Jillian is a smart, wise, and creative 5th grader. She's a kind and faithful friend who has the love and support of her family-- even though she's missing her beloved Grandmother who passed away nearly one year ago. But Jillian has also learned to stifle herself, to hold her thoughts, ideas, and desires in where no one else can hear them. It's only when her teacher encourages her (ok, more like dares her) to step out of her shell to compete in a school-wide competition that Jillian begins to pip; to peck at the shell she's kept herself encased in.

The friendships and the foeships in this story are deftly handled. I fell in love with Marquez, Jillian's best friend who is training his heart to be brave, to fight the good fight. Wisdom, loyalty and determination are his superpowers, and I'm always so thrilled to see open and wise boys in MG literature. This is a beautiful book to model and inspire kids to be compassionate and accepting- both of themselves and others.

Beautiful prose and powerful insights into Jillian's push to pip make this a strong recommendation for younger MG readers.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and Versify for the opportunity to read advanced reader copies.
Profile Image for  ⛅ Sunny (sunnysidereviews) ⛅.
327 reviews117 followers
April 11, 2022
3 stars

Just Right Jillian is an empowering and soft read on breaking out of one's shell. I adored the main character and could feel her frustration as people kept on speaking over her. Moreover, Jillian's character development was so lovely to see! I loved how as she became more confident in herself, she began to reach out to others too -- even people Jillian never thought she'd be friends with. Unfortunately though, I disliked the writing. I found it was a bit boring at times. Nevertheless, it's still an inspiring read for younger kids!
Profile Image for Chrystal D. Giles.
Author 4 books67 followers
March 27, 2021
Thanks to the publisher for an ARC of this book.

Jillian is endearing and oh so sweet! She's sure to be fast friends with many young readers. An incredible debut novel!
Profile Image for Sally Engelfried.
Author 2 books6 followers
May 4, 2022
Jillian wants to be seen but doesn't like people looking at her, and ever since her grandma died, she has found it difficult to use her voice to show people who she is. At school she is smart but afraid to show it, but with the support of her parents, a really great teacher and—to Jillian’s surprise—new friends, Jillian learns to be brave enough to peck out of her shell, just like the little chicks they are hatching in science. This book really captured that fear of talking that I remember so well as a former quiet kid, as well as the push-pull of wanting to be seen but also being afraid to be the center of attention. The backdrop of school projects pushing Jillian to pursue a courage that seems just out of reach propels the action along, and the fully rendered secondary characters make the story come alive. I particularly loved the parents who supported Jillian but didn’t pry too much or push her out of her comfort zone, and the "frenemy" who turned out to be more than she first appeared. I will be recommending this to my middle grade readers!
Profile Image for Tameka Woodard.
23 reviews
February 22, 2021
Jillian is a bright student who struggles with speaking up in class. As the school year progresses, she has many opportunities to keep a promise to her grandmother, who passed away, and show her confidence. It’s so easy to gain an immediate connection to Jillian as she watches the chicks grow in her classroom project and wonder if she’ll break out of her shell as they do. I can’t wait for this book to be available to elementary and middle grades students! Nicole Collier created an amazing story with the perfect character to help children and adults understand how it feels to be shy and the triumph of fighting to get over that demon. So often, that quiet child is pushed aside or never noticed in classrooms, but this story will help many students and teachers gain a clearer understanding of those students. So well written! @essentialcoco #justrightjillian #speakup #familylove #versifybooks
Thank you NetGalley for the e-arc!
4 reviews1 follower
September 15, 2021
I was thrilled to read an advance copy of Just Right Jillian. In this book, Nicole D. Collier has captured the heart of a child while describing the impactful home/school connections.

As a fifth-grade girl, Jillian is torn between blending or forging her own path. As the adults around her attempt to ‘help’ Jillian struggles to become brave. Jillian faces bullying, competitions and medical emergencies while attempting to decide who she is or will become.

Immediately I wanted to order a copy of this book for my granddaughters. They are not yet in fifth grade but this book will be on my shelf, waiting for them to get older. In the meantime, I encourage every teacher and parent to read Just Right Jillian. It’s an accurate example of how children think and the impact of adults on the children’s belief in themselves.

Dr. Toni Bellon
Retired educator
Profile Image for Katie Mac.
767 reviews
January 26, 2022
Book Riot Read Harder 2022: Pick a challenge from any of the previous years’ challenges to repeat! (Read a middle-grade novel.)

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Although there are some unrealistic details, overall this book is genuine, heartfelt, and inspiring. I love the scientific descriptions of what happens when an egg develops into a chick (looking forward to that TK photo), and the classroom (and family) dynamics are sweet. This will resonate with readers in grades 3-5.
Profile Image for Sarah.
33 reviews6 followers
January 25, 2022
Very cute book! I loved the representation, especially with lupus. I also love the passage of time with the chickens. I do agree at times the book seemed to sort of drag. Overall a very fun book, thank you for sharing with #bookallies
Profile Image for Jillian.
193 reviews
August 21, 2022
I picked this up randomly at the library because JILLIAN and it was super cute. Just a quick fun read, full of heart. I enjoyed the messages about being yourself and speaking up for what you want. This is one I’d recommend to my kids in the future.
Profile Image for Rebecca Morrell.
108 reviews2 followers
July 13, 2022
Very cute lower MG story of overcoming shyness. Jillian battles with a lot of interior conflicts. Teachers--this is a wonderful read aloud. So glad I bought a copy of this one!
Profile Image for Michelle Souliere.
Author 4 books7 followers
May 31, 2021
Agghh this book doesn’t come out until February 2022 but it’s so good!! For anyone who ever “disappeared” their personality and then had a chance to remember who they are and come back even stronger, this is a keeper!

Well written and engaging — believe me, I am picky about reading juvie fiction, so much of it seems insipid and formulaic these days, but not “Just Right Jillian”! So keep your eyes out early next year for this great little book. It’s special.
Profile Image for Jennifer Willoughby.
49 reviews1 follower
February 17, 2022
Just Right Jillian is a a sweet story about a young girl learning to find her voice. Jillian is a fifth grader who is so shy that she often cannot speak. Her mother has a chronic illness and her grandmother passed away recently. Jillian is struggling to find her place in the world and reclaim her identity. With supportive adults throughout and a side story about classroom chicks waiting to hatch, Just Right Jillian is compelling, relatable, and enjoyable. Readers will root for Jillian and the chicks! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced digital copy of this book.
Profile Image for Marion Jones.
378 reviews7 followers
January 10, 2022
This is a darling little book for children. It will help them to sort out feelings of shyness and that inner voice that may be telling them that they are ‘less than’. No one knows the private battle that is fought by someone with themselves, that inner voice telling them they are not good enough or asking if they are sure they want to direct attention to themselves. Jillian is a very smart young lady, but she is fighting a battle of her very own. It’s as if she wants to be invisible and not call attention to herself. Because she is so inner-focused, she does not pick up on the cues of those around her and does not realize that each of them is fighting a battle, too. This is a sweet story that will help a child to learn to cope with their feelings as well as to empathize with those around them. I also love the diversity of the characters and the cover! This book brought a smile to myself, and I would definitely purchase it as a gift for someone. Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the opportunity to review this book.
Profile Image for Lynn.
3,205 reviews56 followers
April 23, 2022
5th grader finds courage to compete in the school Mind Bender contest and it’s time to hatch eggs and raise chicks, a school tradition.
Profile Image for Caroline.
Author 2 books45 followers
February 5, 2022
JILLIAN has my whole heart! I was pulled in by this delightful cover, and the inside, the story of fifth-grader Jillian finding her own strength, fulfilled the promise. Nicole Collier has the just right middle-grade voice, and this book has the makings of a timeless classic.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 128 reviews

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