The Adventures of Jilly and June in Russia – Denise Drew

Welcome back everyone, this review is a follow up on last week’s review and will be the final one from my guest reviewer. 

I hope when you read these reviews that you remember writers all need to start somewhere and being able to provide feedback can help them make improvements. I’ve already seen other small authors improve from my feedback, and I hope these reviews will help Denise continue to grow and improve in the future to make even better stories for us to read our kids in the future.

In this story Jilly and June, a mother and daughter duo, seek out new experiences as they travel across the globe in their magic, flying house. This adventure sees their interest in Russia sparked after eating a warm bowl of borscht. Much of their journey revolves around the harsh weather conditions to reach their destination and their encounters in Moscow. Arriving in the centre of the Red Square, they make friends with traditional nesting doll makers, explore The Kremlin, take in the wonders of the Moscow Metro architecture and the acrobatic feats of the Cossack dance.

After reading The Adventures of Jilly and June in India, I found that their Russian adventure provided more thought into the cultural aspects that the pair were exploring. I liked to see June providing Jilly with a background on The Kremlin,and the Cossack dance to help her understand why they were important to Russian culture. This provides children reading this book more knowledge about the places Jilly and June were visiting, making it a fun way to learn about Russia.


What held this story back was the time spent on aspects that didn’t need to go into detail and other points that should have given more time. There were close to five pages describing the flight over to Russia and in addition to a number of pages describing the weather and how cold the setting was. There is a lot more to Russia than the winter season and this time could be better spent to explore more of what Moscow has to offer than discussing what clothes to wear or what equipment to keep on board the house. The part where Jilly and June are confronted by a crowd in front of their house also fell flat when it had the potential to add more excitement to this scene than it did.

While The Adventures of Jilly and June in Russia is an improvement on their Indian adventure, there is still a lot of work to be done to get the balance of culture, energy and wit in the right places to truly captivate a young audience. The ideas Drew is presenting hold a lot of promise and I am look forward to seeing a revision of her work.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed the last two reviews on The Adventures of Jilly and June in Russia.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Denise Drew was born in Liverpool in 1970. She has raised her daughter, as a single parent, since her daughter was two years old. Never deterred by being a one parent family, Denise worked full time, provided a loving home and continued life in a strong and positive light.

As a small family, they were lucky enough to have holidays every year and this lead Denise to dream of writing adventure stories about her and her daughter travelling the world. Denise would say that she would love to pick up her house and take it on holiday with her, so they could have their home comforts. What an idea! A flying house. A magical house, with sails, that flies them to "wherever takes their fancy".

The Adventures of Jilly and June in India – Denise Drew

Welcome back everyone, this review, and one next week, are a special feature for me. These two reviews are features of a friend of mine and I’m sure you’ll appreciate her point of view on these children’s books. Yes,you heard me right! For the first time ever you will get to hear about children’s books, but don’t expect too many more of these as they aren’t something I specialise in.

In this story Jilly and June, a mother and daughter duo, seek out new experiences as they travel across the globe in their magic, flying house. In this story they set sail for India to learn more about the country that is famous for curry. After navigating their house through a storm, they arrive at their destination and find that there is much more to experience in this vibrant land where the trains are overcrowded, polo matches are played with elephants instead of horses, weddings feature “Bollywood” dance moves and saris, you can drive tuk tuks through mountains and find inner peace through the art of meditation.

Drew brings an innocent curiosity to both Jilly and June as they discover new cultures and social norms, such as adapting to eating meals with their hands instead of cutlery. She also captures the intimate moments in a mother-daughter relationship, highlighting Jilly’s embarrassed reactions when June lets loose dancing at a wedding they attended, and enjoying a meditation session.


While Drew’s fictional perspective feels like it’s coming from good-intentions, there are instances in the book where research to the subject-matter could have been applied more effectively where she describes non-fictional references to avoid racial stereotyping. For instance, when Jilly and June meet with a “Maharajah”,I felt confused as to what time period they were in, since monarchies are now abolished in India. Jilly and June are also introduced to a “Buddha”, again,raising some questions about timelines and suggesting that Drew may have incorrectly referring to a Sadhu. Sadly, these examples left me cringing and I felt as though the writing was based on the idea of exotic glamour that is India, and not a true reflection of the rich culture that it is.

Drew’s desire to travel the world with her daughter in the eyes of Jilly and June draws a sense of wonder and spirit to the book. However, the story is yearning for more context and development to really capture the imagination of today’s children and to give the credit and respect to the cultures Drew is in awe of.More investment into planning content and approach to this story would make it a more inclusive, robust and enjoyable read for children. Unfortunately, I will not be reading this edition with my family any time soon as it’s not the perspective of my son’s heritage I want him to hear.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week’s special to follow up this one will be reviewing The Adventures of Jilly and June in Russia, the next book in the series.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Denise Drew was born in Liverpool in 1970. She has raised her daughter, as a single parent, since her daughter was two years old. Never deterred by being a one parent family, Denise worked full time, provided a loving home and continued life in a strong and positive light. 

As a small family, they were lucky enough to have holidays every year and this lead Denise to dream of writing adventure stories about her and her daughter travelling the world. Denise would say that she would love to pick up her house and take it on holiday with her, so they could have their home comforts. What an idea! A flying house. A magical house, with sails, that flies them to "wherever takes their fancy".