The Adventures of Jilly and June in India – Denise Drew

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The Adventures of Jilly and June in India
Jilly is a young girl who lives with her mother June and Jimmy the ginger tom cat. Their home is no ordinary house, but a magical flying that takes them on many hilarious adventures. Where do they go? Join them and read, to find out what happens when they arrive at the Taj Mahal and end up Bollywood dancing.

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".

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