Review: Jillian Jiggs
An Ode to (X)NFP's with ADHD
I'm an INFP living with bipolar. I also have some ADHD tendencies. At any given hour, I boil down to a strange dichotomy of fantastical effervescence and organized chaos before alternating to melancholy so severe it would make Edgar Allen Poe resemble Mr. Rogers.
For those unfamiliar with Meyer-Briggs personalities, as described in Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality, co-authored by Isabel Briggs Myers and Peter Myers, all personalities can be evaluated according to how we perceive the world and make decisions. It picks up where Carl Jung left off and does a much better job, in my opinion, of helping us understand one another. There are many ways to find out which one of the sixteen you are and why and how that relates to your strengths, weaknesses, and relationships. My personal favourite testing option is the free version on 16personalities.com.
When I'm left to my own devices, as I prefer to exist, you'll find me at home with my three cats, either writing furiously, gaming into the wee hours of the morning or practicing piano. At the best of times, I'm tremendously kind, giving, outgoing and loving to literally EVERYONE: my family, friends, cats, strangers, strangers' cats . . . that chair I knocked over and apologized to afterwards. At the worst of times, I'm juggling too many projects, ignoring texts, and completely helpless to make even the simplest of business decisions without the help of my incredible illustrator, Cheryl Woynarski. When I get really bad, you won't find me at all because I'll be hiding out from the world, wholly convinced that humanity and my life as I know it are doomed. (My go-to cure for that particular brand of melancholy is all things Lord of the Rings.)
For example: Sam's ISFJ speech to INFP Frodo.
And then I snap back again. How and why so many people love me, I have no idea, but I sure am grateful they do!
Given the above background information, it should come as no surprise that the bubbly, messy, imaginative ENFP Jillian still feels like my soul-twin after all these years. Written and illustrated by Canadian-American Phoebe Gilman, Jillian Jiggs (book one in a series of books about a character by the same name) is an ode to procrastination.
The refrain that choruses throughout the narrative and makes this an excellent book to read aloud goes,
"Jillian, Jillian, Jillian Jigs! It looks like your room has been lived in by pigs!"
Jillian's response to her mother's request to get her room under control is answered with a sentiment that I, and many other procrastaholics— especially those living with ADHD—know only too well,
"Later. I promise. As soon as I'm through, I'll clean up my room. I promise. I do."
The book follows Jillian as she romps about with her friends Rachel and Peter, as well as a tag-along little sister, while Jillian does everything BUT cleaning her room. Instead, they dress up as canaries, trees, fairies, dragons, pirates, and build robot costumes out of boxes. As she continues to play all day long, her room gets messier and messier and messier. At one point, her friends swear to Ms. Jigs that they'll help Jillian clean up, only to be swept away by the creative child's imagination and forget all about their promise.
As you might have guessed, Jillian's mother (probably an ESTJ) finally loses it. While I sympathize with Jillian's mother's frustrations, she demonstrates more of what not to do when your easily distracted child is struggling instead of what to do. I won't give away any more than that.
Re-examining this book as an adult, it stands out to me as worth reading to your kids for a couple of reasons.
First of all, like so many of us struggling with mess, Jillian has good intentions. I don't believe she lied to her mother because I don't think she realized she'd be unable to keep her promise. I have to wonder if Phoebe didn't purposefully design her character to have the organizational issues of a child with ADHD. I wish, too, that I could tell her how much I felt I could relate to Jillian and how it was a relief to empathize with another imperfect little girl. Unfortunately, we can't ask the author because, as I learned while reviewing her book, Ms. Gilman passed away too soon in 2002.
Secondly, the art is so detailed! You'd have to read it more than once to catch all the intricacies of the layouts, especially as the mess and frenzied imaginative activities increase in scale. Some of the details are minute and repetitive, like the flowers on her wallpaper, and you have to step back and admire the fact that Ms. Gilman created these works without the help of a computer.
All in all, you should consider picking up a copy the next time you shop for a new book. Not only is it visually and verbally appealing, it also offers more than one conversation starter. Most significantly, it is a chance to talk about accepting and supporting children with disorganization issues. Of course, not all characters can be heroes, but in this book they're all human.
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And remember, it's always "better to be happy than dignified." - Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)
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