Author: Michelle Isenhoff
Year published: 2011
Publisher: Candle Star Press
Number of pages: 23
Recommended age: 6-8
Child Rating: ★★★★½
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★½
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary (from the book’s jacket): “Gloria Jean Gatsby!” Uh-oh! Mom only uses my whole name if she’s mad at me, or when she’s really proud, like when I graduated from kindergarten. When she’s proud her eyes start leaking and she says a bunch of sappy junk. But I don’t hear any sappy junk now, so this is probably a mad yell. And I bet I know why…
What it’s about: This story is about Gilly who is going to a new school in Grade Two. Gilly feels really nervous about making friends and cooking at the school because it’s called “Baker” Elementary School. To try and make friends she calls herself “Gilly the Great” and pretends that she can do all kinds of stuff that she really can’t. One day her class was having a drawing contest and Gilly pretended that she could draw really well, but she won in second so she purposely ripped the girl’s drawing who won. Then she starts feeling bad so the next day she apologizes to the girl and then they became friends.
What I liked and disliked about it: I liked the story – it was easy to read and it took about 15 minutes to finish it. I probably felt the same way as Gilly about going to a new school and not knowing anyone when I moved cities. I think that Gilly didn’t act nicely and she shouldn’t have acted the way she did. I liked that she apologized to the girl whose picture she wrecked because that was nice.
My bottom line: I liked this book and I would recommend it to my friends. I think that girls would like to read this book and maybe some boys. I think kids even younger than me would like this story.
What it’s about: Gilly the Great! is a charming short story about a girl feeling nervous about her first day in second grade at a new school. Feeling unsure about herself, Gilly decides that if the kids at school believe that she is great at everything, they surely will want to be friends with her. But what happens when she doesn’t live up to those expectations? Gilly may have to learn the hard way that the best way to make friends is by being yourself.
What I liked and disliked about it: This is a really tight, lovely short story with a clear message. The story is about friendship, accepting and loving yourself for who you are, and forgiveness.
Kids and grown-ups alike will relate to Gilly’s uncertainty and anxiety around making new friends. I’m sure many of us can remember putting our foot in our mouth at least once when feeling nervous and awkward in a social situation. Were we forgiven for our gaffe (or did we turn beet red and slink away unnoticed through the back door?)
I really enjoyed Isenhoff’s writing style, giving just enough information about Gilly and her thought processes that you could imagine yourself in her shoes. I can vouch that Isenhoff nails the temperament and angst of a typical 7 year-old girl. I was actually cringing and saying “tsk, tsk” as I was reading certain passages feeling sympathy toward Gilly as she was making poor choices in negotiating new friendships.
One little bit of feedback for the author. While I understand that the author’s intent for this book was to write a short story for her young daughter, this story would have been that much better if there were a few illustrations. I’m glad she choose to publish and share this story!
My bottom line: This was a very short read (23 pages) which would make it appropriate for reading to a child and for new independent readers. I would recommend it for young girls. This book is available for free as an e-book through Smashwords (see link below). If you like Isenhoff’s writing style, please check out some of her other books – in particular, The Quill Pen. Here is a short decription from Michelle Isenhoff’s website:
If you owned a pen that wrote the future, would you use it? What if the consequences spread like ripples in a pond? What if they raged out of control?
What if the pen demanded tribute…in blood?
Thirteen-year-old Micah has found such a pen. One that’s ensnared him in a curse dating back generations. One that’s devastated two families and now threatens his whole New England village. But how can Micah destroy the pen when it offers him his only chance at the future he dreams of? Ages 8+
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Where to Buy?
Download Gilly the Great! for FREE through Smashwords:
Please check out some other children’s books by Michelle Isenhoff: