Review of You Need to Chill, by Juno Dawson, illustrated by Laura Hughes

You Need to Chill

A Story of Love and Family

by Juno Dawson
illustrated by Laura Hughes

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2023. First published in the United Kingdom in 2022. 32 pages.
Review written June 27, 2023, from a library book.
Starred Review

This picture book is simple and delightful, and there are many adults out there who I wish would take this message to heart.

The book begins inside the front cover with a picture of a girl and her big sister arriving at school. Then the younger one enters her classroom and here’s how the text starts:

Sometimes people say to me,
“What happened to your brother Bill?

We haven’t seen him in ages.
Is he hiding?
Is he ill?”

“Is he lost in the park?
Is he scared of the dark?
Is he doing his homework still?

That’s when I look them in the eye and say,
“Hey, you need to chill.”

The questions about Bill get sillier and sillier.

“Was he eaten by a WHALE or SHARK?
Was he munched up just like krill?”

But the answer is always the same.

And after several rounds of questions, the girl answers:

“There are NO hungry whales . . .
NO little green men . . .
Your hysteria is silly.

The truth is that my brother Bill . . .

“. . . is now my sister Lily.”

But the book doesn’t leave them there. There are three spreads left in the book, showing a happy family:

“It was maybe quite a shock, at first,
but she’s really just the same.
She looks a little different
and she has a new first name.”

“She’s still clever and funny
and kind and cool.
She’s one in a mil…”

And I bet you can guess what they shout when people have a problem with that.

I like the way this book makes an important point in a light-hearted way. Someone else’s gender identity, child or adult, isn’t something that people outside their family need to worry about.

I honestly think that adults need this book more than kids do, but it’s also a fun way to give the message to any kids who need it. A lot of rhyming picture books try and fail to bring a lilt to a story, but this one pulls it off with flair, and begs to be read aloud.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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