Booktalk for Julia Gillian (and the Art of Knowing)
Not knowing and worrying about something can be worse than knowing it.
Julia Gillian was having a different kind of summer. It was the summer of the books. Big, heavy books, with pages that flipped in the breeze from the ceiling fan. The dining table was covered with them. Her parents, who were teachers, were taking double loads in summer school so they could get their graduate degrees sooner. Every day they studied their books. Her father hadn't knitted any scarves. Her mother hadn't built any birdhouses. They hadn't gone to the water park, or the Living History Farm, or the Rose Garden, or even taken Bigfoot to the dog park.
Instead, it was the summer of the nine square block walks. (That was as far as Julia Gillian was allowed to go by herself, if she took Bigfoot with her.) It was the summer of Enzo reminding Julia Gillian every day to remember her parameters. (Enzo lived downstairs and was her substitute parent. Julia Gillian's parameters were: Look both ways, don't talk to strangers, be back in one hour, stay inside nine square blocks, make sure Bigfoot gets a drink, and good luck with the claw machine.) It was the summer of frequent wearing of the raccoon papier mache mask. (This was the mask Julia Gillian wore when she needed to feel strong and brave.) And finally, it was the summer of the green book. The book that sat on Julia Gillian's bookshelf in her room. The book with two ponytail holders on it to make sure it didn't fall open accidently. The book she'd stopped reading when she got a bad feeling about how it would end. The book that made her scared. It was a book about a boy and his old dog, and Julia Gillian was afraid the dog would die in the end.
Her parents loved to read. Enzo loved to read. Julia Gillian didn't love to read-she had too many other things to do, and she was afraid of how the book might end. The dog in the book was old and lame, but he was only one year older than Bigfoot. What did that mean for Bigfoot? Julia Gillian was afraid to even think about that. Bigfoot went everywhere with her-everywhere. She couldn't remember a time when he hadn't been part of her life.
This summer was different, but would it be the summer Julia Gillian was finally able to conquer her fear and finish the green book?