About You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P!
Jilly thinks she’s figured out how life works. But when her sister, Emma, is born Deaf, she realizes how much she still has to learn. The world is going to treat Jilly, who is white and hearing, differently from Emma, just as it will treat them both differently from their Black cousins.
A big fantasy reader, Jilly makes a connection online with another fantasy fan, Derek, who is a Deaf, Black ASL user. She goes to Derek for help with Emma but doesn’t always know the best way or time to ask for it.
As she and Derek meet in person, have some really fun conversations, and become friends, Jilly makes some mistakes . . . but comes to understand that it’s up to her, not Derek, to figure out how to do better next time — especially when she wants to be there for Derek the most.
- The night her sister is born, Jilly imagines how she will teach her to make special JP PB&J sandwiches. Why do you think this is something Jilly is excited about sharing with her sister?
- When Jilly finds out her sister is Deaf, she can’t wait to tell her online friend profoundinoaktown. How does he react to Jilly’s news? Is his reaction what Jilly expected? Why do you think he reacted this way?
- Jilly doesn’t want to wait to learn sign language, but her parents don’t seem as eager as she is. Discuss why you think her parent’s reactions might be different than hers.
- Who is James Dupree? Why does his story matter to Aunt Alicia? Does his story matter to Jilly?
- When they visit the first audiologist, she has some very strict advice for how to interact with baby Emma. Does it seem like this is the best way to interact with a Deaf baby? What are some things Jilly and her family find frustrating about this advice?
- Jilly’s family has some hard conversations during Thanksgiving. What are some things that they learn from each other? How do you think Jilly’s family could have had a better and more honest conversation with each other?
- Aunt Alicia tells Jilly, “Progress brings some dark times, but it’s still better than not growing at all.” (p. 124) Discuss what you think this means and if you think it’s true.
- Aunt Joanne says, “But there’s a difference between uncomfortable and unsafe.” (p. 129) What does she mean? Can you think of an example of a situation where this is true?
- How does Jilly feel meeting Derek in person for the first time? In what ways does meeting Derek in person change how Jilly feels about him?
- Jilly’s dad and Macy often talk to each other just using “initialisms.” What are some other ways people communicate? Can you think of other examples of this from the book?
- When Karina visits Jilly’s family, her advice is very different than the advice from the first audiologist. Describe the differences in their advice.
- Jilly sometimes hurts Derek unintentionally. Think about a time you have hurt someone else’s feelings. What did you do to try to fix the situation? How does Jilly try to fix things with Derek?
- Jilly wants to talk to her family about racism. Some of them talk to her, but others don’t. Why does Jilly think it’s important to discuss racism? Why does she keep trying to have this conversation with her family?
- What does Jilly think she might want to do when she grows up? What’s helped her make that decision? What are some things you want to do when you grow up? What helped you make that decision?
- Talk about why Jilly goes to the vigil for Jessica Johnson. Do you think Jilly would have the same reactions to Jessica’s death at the beginning of the book as she does at the end? What changed?
- This book ends with a scene that takes place three years after the main action. Write a scene about what you think might happen in the future for Jilly and her family and friends.
- What are some ways in which Jilly’s experiences in life different from Derek’s or Emma’s? When does she realize that their interactions with the world will always be different?
The unforgettable debut from Stonewall Award winner, Alex Gino.
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
- Melissa and Rick used to be friends, but something changed when Jeff moved to town. Why do you think Rick changed? How could he try to be a better friend to Melissa?
- Melissa wants to talk to her mom about how she feels and who she is, but she’s not sure how to. What are some things that her mom did that made it more difficult for Melissa to talk to her? What are some things she did that made it possible for Melissa to finally open up?
- Do you think it’s fair that the boys and girls can’t try out for the same parts in the play? How does it make you feel when people say that some things (like pink or blue) are only for boys or girls?
- Why doesn’t Melissa want one of the other roles Ms. Udell offers?
- Melissa finally decides to stand up to Jeff after she hears him making fun of Charlotte. Why do you think Melissa cares so much about Charlotte?
- Kelly says, “Ms. Udell is wrong. You should be Charlotte.” (p. 134) Do you agree with Kelly? Should Melissa have a chance to be Charlotte too?
- When Melissa tells her family the truth about herself, her mother and brother have different reactions. How do they react? How does it make Melissa feel?
- At the end of the performance of the play, Melissa thinks: “Charlotte was dead, but George was alive in a way she had never imagined.” What does this mean?
- Principal Maldonado tells Melissa’s mom, “Well, you can’t control who your children are, but you can certainly support them, am I right?” (p. 160) Do you think Melissa’s mom understands what she means? Why does Principal Maldonado tell her this?
- Melissa’s mom says, “I just don’t want you to make your road any harder than it has to be.” (p. 170) What are some ways Melissa’s life is already hard? Can you think of some ways her life might be made easier?
- Why do you think Melissa’s mom gives her back her bag full of magazines?
- The morning she and Kelly are going to the zoo, Melissa gets up early and goes out to swing. Talk about how you think the swinging makes her feel and why she has chosen to start her day that way.
- Kelly doesn’t have to ask Melissa to pose for any pictures during their zoo day. Why do you think that is? What things are different for Melissa that day?
- The tagline for George is: “Be Who You Are.” Discuss what this means to you. What are some ways that you can be who you are? What are some ways that you can support other people in being who they are?
- Who in the book would you try to be like if a friend told you something they were nervous to share? Who would you try not to be like? What did those people do that was helpful or hurtful?
- Why is Melissa’s name important to her? Why are names or nicknames important? What power does using someone’s name hold? How does the author use pronouns in this book for Melissa in narration and in dialogue, and how did that affect your understanding of her as a character?
Note: These questions about the main character in this book use her chosen name, Melissa, and her pronouns: she/her.
Further Reading for You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P!
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
She Stood for Freedom: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland by Loki Mulholland and Angela Fairwell, Illustrated by Charlotta Janssen
Why Ally Is a Verb, Not a Noun by Invictus Animus
Further Reading for George
They, She, He, Me: Free to Be! by Maya & Matthew
The Gender Wheel: A Story About Bodies and Gender for Every Body by Maya Gonzalez
Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and YOU by Cory Silverberg
Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings
Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson & various authors (multiple volumes)
About the Author
Alex Gino loves glitter, ice cream, gardening, awe-ful puns, and stories that reflect the diversity and complexity of being alive. George is their first novel and You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! is their second. For more about Alex, please visit alexgino.com.
This guide was created by Angie Manfredi who has been lucky enough to be a public youth services librarian for the past 11 years. She works daily with children, teens, and families to build radical, boundless library and literacy love. When not reading too many books and not even making a dent in her TBR pile, Angie enjoys watching bad TV and good movies, traveling, and sending snail mail. You can find her online @misskubelik.