________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 2 . . . . September 12, 2008

cover A Treasury of Jillian Jiggs.

Phoebe Gilman.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2008.
196 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99316-6.

Subject Heading:
Children's stories, Canadian (England).

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


After studying art in high school and college, she [Phoebe Gilman] lived in Europe and Israel and began a career as a fine artist, having exhibitions and selling her work. It wasn’t until her older daughter was a toddler and lost a balloon in a tree that her thoughts turned to picture books again.


internal art

A Treasury of Jillian Jiggs brings together five of Gilman’s timeless picture books that were originally published between 1985 and 2002 and which featured the wonderfully messy and forgetful Jillian Jiggs and her supporting cast of little sister Rebecca, best friends Rachel and Peter, and, of course, Jillian’s exasperated but loving mother. Since all of these books were originally reviewed most positively in CM, they will not be re-reviewed here. Instead, this review will focus on the value-added aspects of this compilation.

Jillian Jiggs.
See review at Vol. 11, No. 9, January 7, 2005.

The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs.
See review at Vol. 11, No. 9, January 7, 2005.

Jillian Jiggs to the Rescue.
See review at CM Archives, Vol. 22, No. 4, September, 1994.

Jillian Jiggs and the Secret Surprise.
See review at Vol. 6, No.16, April 14, 2000.

Jillian Jiggs and the Great Big Snow.
See review at Vol. 9, No. 12, February 14, 2003.

      The most obvious difference is in the physical size of the “books.” The original volumes measured 21 cm. x 21 cm., but the collection’s larger 26 cm. x 26 cm. format will make it significantly easier for teachers and librarians to use the book with small groups since the larger illustrations will be much more accessible. With the exception of Jillian Jigs and the Secret Surprise, the illustrations in the other four books in the “treasury” appear to be richer in colour when compared with the original books. While there have been no changes to the wording of the original books’ main texts, the collected version evidences a few instances of changes to paragraphing in order to signal readers that a new speaker is speaking. The only textual change occurs in The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs which, at its conclusion, has directions for making stuffed pigs. The directions are now presented on facing pages, have been numbered, and, to some small degree, simplified.

      The treasury’s closing pages contain new material, with the first being a one page biographical piece, “About the Author,” which includes a colour photo of the late Phoebe Gilman. “About the Books,” two pages in length and largely using Gilman’s own words, explains where she got the idea for each of the five books. For instance, with regard to Jillian Jiggs to the Rescue, Gilman explains:

“This book started out to be about kids forming a club. The members of the club had to help others. The problem I had was to figure out who they could help. Why not Jillian’s younger sister? What kind of problem could a little girl have? Why not a scary dream? By the time the story was finished, I had taken out all of the club stuff because I didn’t have enough room for it.”

Only one thing in the book is left from that original idea – the club’s secret password. You’ll know it as the beginning of the monster-squishing rhyme: Kalamazoo!


The final page is headed “Can You Find?” and begins as follows:

When Phoebe Gilman was creating the first Jillian Jiggs book, she decided to hide a little bit of her first book, The Balloon Tree in the illustrations. That started a tradition – she began hiding things from her previous books in every new one. Phoebe liked chickens, so every book also has at least one chicken in it, too. Here are just a few items to look for – but there are others, too. See what else you can spot!


For each of the Jillian Jiggs books, a list is then provided. For example,

    In Jillian Jiggs to the Rescue, look for:
  • A painting of a balloon tree
  • Jillian’s dress from Jillian Jiggs
  • Jillian’s painted boxes
  • Little Blue Ben
  • Wonderful pigs
  • The book Grampa and the Pirates
  • The book Once Upon a Golden Apple
  • The blanket from Something from Nothing
  • A chicken

      Not only will these searches take readers back to reexamine the illustrations in the various Jillian Jiggs books more closely, but the mention of other Gilman books may cause youngsters or their parents to seek out these titles as well.

      Given that the original five books appeared over a span of 17 years, it may have been easy to overlook how well the books build on each other and are interconnected in their content. Having the quintet together in a single volume definitely underlines these qualities.

      Of course, getting all five Jillian Jiggs books, in hardcover format, for just a penny less than $20.00 is a wonderful deal for both home and institutional purchase. Anyone looking for a birthday or other gift for a preschooler should be pointed in the direction of A Treasury of Jillian Jiggs.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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