Books by Jamie Gilson

MY TEACHER IS AN IDIOM by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 25, 2015

"Nothing to write home about. (Fiction. 7-12)"
Confusion about idioms plus rudeness in the cafeteria equals unpleasant consequences for second-graders Patrick and Richard. Read full book review >
CHESS! by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 17, 2008

Sumac School second-grader Richard and pesky rival Patrick from Gotcha! (2006) return with the rest of Mrs. Zookey's class. Patrick seems to have learned little; he still glories in causing problems and puffing himself up by telling lies. Many of the students have joined Mr. Economopoulos's after-school chess club (the kids call the prestidigitating assistant principal "Mr. E"). As they prepare for their first tournament against the other elementary schools in the area, Richard struggles with a lack of confidence and a fear that he's too much like irritating Patrick in his lack of concentration. The team, including Patrick, pull together and perform well with the promise of future victories. The fifth volume in Gilson's Kids at Table Two series offers more of the same: light fare for the transition out of easy readers. Though the emotions are genuine, the characters are stiff. Mostly for fans of the series and as a read-aloud to classes learning to play chess. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
GOTCHA! by Jamie Gilson
by Jamie Gilson, illustrated by Amy Wummer
ANIMALS
Released: March 13, 2006

Mrs. Zookey's second-grade class is studying arachnids and their prey. Patrick the Pest preys on all his classmates, but he especially enjoys tormenting Richard. Patrick is the naughty boy of the class, the one the teacher has to ignore because reacting to his every transgression would prevent her from doing anything else. And Patrick loves his role in the class; he keeps things constantly stirred up by poking and teasing when the teacher's back is turned, and he loves to shoot the sign for GOTCHA! whenever he does something that makes a classmate look silly. But, while on a spider-hunting field trip, Patrick is his own victim with near-disastrous consequences. And, when he still does not learn his lesson, one last trick goes bad for the pest Patrick, much to the pleasure of his classmates. Pedestrian, predictable fare for the chapter-book set. (Fiction. 6-8)Read full book review >
STINK ALLEY by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2002

A departure from the author's contemporary settings, this historical novel blends an engaging story about likable main characters with the context and culture that led to the Mayflower pilgrims settling Plimouth Plantation. Set in Holland in 1614, 12-year-old Lizzy and her parents have joined a group of Separatists who fled England and the Church with William Brewster and settled in Leiden to practice their religious beliefs. When her parents died, Master Brewster took Lizzy in, but her talkative nature and willful spirit got her into trouble with his strict religious practices. When she hires herself out as a cook and kitchen helper, a young mischievous boy cleverly gets her a job, after tricking her into grabbing a windmill sail to save him. Constantly sketching with chalk and refusing to tell his name, the boy overhears two King's men asking at the printing shop about Master Brewster. Lizzy breaks rules to alert Brewster of the danger (he's writing subversive tracts) and disobeys by not telling when her friend and his brother escape from their brutal jobs at the wool mill. The title (where the Brewsters live) and the cover with a Pippi Longstocking-looking girl clinging to a windmill sail will draw kids in while colorful and "flavorful" depictions of the times when baths were rare and eating eel was a treat will enjoyably gross them out. Many readers will not foresee the build-up to the identity of the boy artist—Rembrandt—and the device works well. An afterword details the historical facts and cites how Gilson envisioned both the real characters and the ones she invented. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
BUG IN A RUG by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 20, 1998

When Richard has to go to school wearing the oversized bright purple pants his eccentric Aunt Nannie made for him, he is mortified, and has to hold on to them so they won't fall down. Worse, it's his turn to be the class assistant, which means he has to, for example, hand out mealworms while holding on to his pants, with predictable results. When equally eccentric Uncle Ken shows up at school with a pair of bright red suspenders for Richard, the man's good humor charms the class and even inspires them to think about wearing their own silly clothes to school. The wonderful message, that being different can be fun, is brought home, but never obviously or didactically. All of the characters are likable, especially Richard, who is appropriately worried without being whiny. De Groat's warm black-and-white drawings perfectly match the lighthearted mood of the text. (Fiction. 6-10) Read full book review >
WAGON TRAIN 911 by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

When the whole fifth grade embarks on a two-week simulation of a wagon train, Dinah is paired with Orin, a boy she despises, and grouped with an unpleasantly contentious bunch of children who seem set on ruining the game with their constant bickering. As they make their way west, encountering crises both real and imagined, they discover—of course—that the whole exercise may be more meaningful than they thought. Interspersed with the third-person narration are the diary entries the students write in the voices of their pioneer characters. Gilson (Soccer Circus, 1993, etc.) starts with and sticks to a relentlessly truthful depiction of a group of disagreeable children who will be too similar to most readers' classmates for comfort. It's usually to an author's credit to render such a realistic picture of school, but in this case the authenticity—with a predictable plot to boot—is numbing. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
IT GOES Eeeeeeeeeeeee! by Jamie Gilson
ANIMALS
Released: April 18, 1994

Best friends Richard and Ben are supposed to be nice to new kid Patrick, but it's hard—he's a know-it-all in a suit, bow tie, and shiny shoes; and a pest, the kind of kid who gleefully turns earthworms to mush with his squirt gun. All three are in Mrs. Zookey's second grade (scene of Itchy Richard, 1991), where the daily high point is ``Yummies and Yuckies'' (Show and Tell). After the boys find a stranded bat and share all kinds of scary misconceptions about it, Patrick gets in trouble, spends recess inside reading about bats, and pairs up with Dawn Marie, who has real bats at home in a shed, for a report for Endangered Animal Month. Patrick's research gains him acceptance (sort of), while readers learn some bat facts and everyone has a good time. A handful of realistic b&w illustrations depict lively kids and meek-looking bats. Address to write for information on bat houses. (Fiction. 6-10) Read full book review >
SOCCER CIRCUS by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 18, 1993

Though Hobie didn't really mean to miss his dental appointment or to ride his bike through wet cement, his father says he'll have to pay for repairing the cement; moreover, his behavior had better be perfect on the soccer team's overnight trip. Hobie really does try—it's not his fault that he wrecks a wedding at the motel where the team stays: the clowns performing at the wedding asked Hobie to wear the penguin suit, and he does his best to convince Mr. Crook that he's not part of the murder mystery weekend that's also going on. Gilson quickly establishes characters and conflict in this latest fast-paced story about the popular Hobie; fans will recognize familiar characters like know-it-all Molly and RX the tease. The plot hangs on an unlikely number of coincidences, but there's a lively blend of sports, mystery, and laughs: the dialogue's both funny and believable, while some of the antics— like playing elevator tag—are hilarious. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
YOU CHEAT! by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 30, 1992

The dynamic in these brief, pithy chapters is established at the start: From playing cards to going fishing, Nathan is a ``doer,'' while his older brother Hank loves to sit still with a hand-sized video game. Nathan needs a partner to play cards and wants Hank's company for fishing off the dock. Hank pretends to find fishing just plain boring, and putting worms on hooks revolting, but Nathan is persuasive; he will kiss, on the mouth, any fish his brother catches. It's a pledge too good to pass up. Gilson, known for her middle-grade novels, spins a one-argument story into dialogue-laden episodes; but even though she has a good ear for the bantering of young boys, such blow-by-blow conversation doesn't always make for interesting reading, nor does it contribute to sturdy character development. Still, Nathan is admirably brave, and readers will respond to the fish-kissing, rib-tickling topic—and to the sunny, full-color illustrations on every page. (Fiction/Young reader. 6-9) Read full book review >
ITCHY RICHARD by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 28, 1991

Second-graders meet an infestation of lice head-on: someone in Mrs. Zookey's class has them, and the nurse must check each student's scalp to see if they've spread. With the banning of pesticides, head lice have been enjoying a resurgence that afflicts affluent and impoverished alike. Gilson's light touch enables readers to laugh at what might otherwise be embarrassing- -as well as to learn a lot about lice and enjoying the relaxed, mutually supportive atmosphere of a classroom where even the teacher might harbor the pesky intruders. (Fiction. 6-9) Read full book review >
STICKS AND STONES AND SKELETON BONES by Jamie Gilson
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 22, 1991

Still meeting in a mall while their school is being repaired (see Hobie Hanson: Greatest Hero of the Mall, 1989), Hobie's class learns about conflict resolution and has some novel interactions with an old-fashioned Santa. Hobie and best-friend Nick are seriously at odds: while procrastinating over his homework (the human skeleton), Hobie has not only inadvertently caused an embarrassing injury to Nick's nose with a trick snake but has laughed at Nick afterwards. Hobie believes that Nick has retaliated by shoving him down the escalator with Mort, a life-size plastic skeleton. Egged on by less-than-truthful classmates, they meet to fightonly to be forcibly separated by Molly. Authority's subsequent intervention is structured: two kids who've just finished a course in mediation are assigned to run through their new skills with the three combatants, who come out with both new insights and a model signed contract (included); most interestingly, Molly learns that aggressive intervention may not be constructive. With her usual stock of wordplay and funny situations, Gilson conveys her lesson with a light touch, deftly meshing it with a subplot concerning a kindly Santa who is uncomfortable with the new generation's style but learns that ``Kids will [still] be kids.'' Good fun; thought-provoking; sure-fire jacket. (Fiction. 8-11) Read full book review >