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*Diary of a Would-Be Princess* by Jessica Green- young readers fantasy book review

Diary of a Would-Be Princess
by Jessica Green
Ages 9-12 240 pages Charlesbridge January 2007 Hardcover    

Jillian James is a much nicer person than all “The Princesses” in Class 5B put together, but she wants to be accepted by them. Sometimes it seems like the nice kids in schools are the ones with the fewest friends - and Jillian is one of the nice kids. As the school terms go by, though, her growing group of friends changes her, and each other. Jillian James reminds children how to be a good friend.

It’s easy to get to know Jillian James because her teacher, Mrs. Bright, is making the entire classroom write in a journal everyday. Mrs. Bright is determined to make her 5B class into readers and writers; their reading and writing skills will never get rusty in Mrs. Bright’s class because they practice everyday. Jillian’s journal entries start in term one and end in term four. Each entry is one to three pages long and sometimes accompanied by something additional - Mrs. Bright’s comments, and Jillian’s drawings and class assignments. Her alliterations, acrostics, genie story, and role-model assignment are all part of her journal.

Jillian is honest in her journal, but she does keep back some writing for her “Secrets Book." Jillian tries hard to make friends at school, and she rehashes and mulls over her attempts at fitting in by means of the latest fad in her journal. At first, nappy pins seem like a good substitute for little friendship pins, and pajamas and underwear elastic seem like a good substitute for the elastics Kirrily is using, but the consequences of these decisions clearly show otherwise.

The behaviors of her Australian classmates and teacher, and even her family, cause a variety of emotions - and sometimes retaliations - in Jillian, all recounted in her journal. She doesn’t understand why Mrs. Bright doesn’t believe her missing homework excuses. She’s frustrated that she cannot get her little brother, Paul, toilet-trained. She tries to make sense of the sudden pet craze at her school and its spin-off pet clubs. And she needs to understand the surprising note she receives from the class bully.

While reading her journal, children will see Jillian has more in common with Mrs. Bright than she realizes. Both want everyone in the class to like and respect one another. Mrs. Bright implements a “No Put-Down Zone” in the class, and Jillian plans a party at her house - the invitation list includes everyone in 5B. Good intentions, one kilometer of paper decorations, unique food offerings, and outdoor entertainment unfortunately don’t prevent disasters from occurring. But much to Jillian’s surprise, new crushes, new friendships, and new sympathies and appreciations come out of the party mess.

Jillian pulls through the school year with many accomplishments, some of which include a published newsletter and improved math scores.

This is primary school teacher Jessica Green’s first novel. Jillian James, just like Jessica Green, both live in Australia. Various Australian words used in Jillian’s journal are compiled in the back of the book in a fun and informative glossary.

Children will enjoy reading about the new and unexpected friendships that form in and out of Class 5B. This story by Jessica Green will remind a child that being popular is not always best.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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