African American girl holding a chick hatching out of an egg

Just Right Jillian / Nicole D. Collier

Jillian “wins” a math competition to her foe, Rashida, but ultimately loses because she’s so painfully shy that she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself. Jillian’s teacher realizes the truth and encourages Jillian to participate in the school’s Mind Benders competition to help herself learn to speak up. Jillian isn’t sure she wants to do this, but she does want to keep her promise to her beloved grandmother that she would work hard to be her true self. She doesn’t like not being able to speak up. For example, when she finds out she needs glasses, she can’t even speak up to her mom about which glasses she wants, and her mom ends up picking the wrong ones. So, Jillian decides that she’s going to compete in the Mind Benders, and she’s determined to win.

There’s also a few side stories. Jillian is grieving the death of her grandma. She is also worried about her mom, who has lupus and while it’s seemingly under control, she’s been more tired than usual. Jillian is worried that her mom is going to get sick just like her grandma. Meanwhile, Jillian’s class is raising eggs. If all conditions are right, the eggs will hatch into chicks. But Jillian’s egg doesn’t seem to be growing along with the other eggs. Jillian becomes good friends with a boy in her class, Marquis, who uses humor to help her relax. But he is struggling at home with his parents separation. And thanks to Mind Benders, Jillian gets to know Rashida, her sworn enemy, but maybe Rashida isn’t so bad after all.

This is book about family, school, competition, friendship, bullying, self-esteem, and shyness. The storyline with the eggs is also perfect for those who raise chickens. For children ages 8 and up.