Jack and Almost Jill

A True Story of a Twin Adoption

Children - Picture Book
26 Pages
Reviewed on 08/25/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

A subtle surprise awaits the reader of Jack and Almost Jill, a beautiful children’s book based on the author’s true life story, written by Jackie Ruchti with illustrations by Hazel Quintanilla. All the elements of a truly engaging read are present, along with the most complementary illustrations. Neither the compact but complex (in message) writing nor the graphic but living art overwhelms or distracts the reader’s attention from the other. Just the opposite. The story and illustrations in this book are so perfectly suited for one another, and so perfectly arranged in composition and design, one wonders that the co-authors might themselves be twins. In this somewhat sad but decidedly loving story, Jack and almost Jill are twins, amongst a family seemingly ensorcelled by twins – two sets preceding their own arrival. Within a week, their mother dies. What happens next should be tragic as they are adopted out to a related but different family.

In Jack and Almost Jill, both Jackie Ruchti and Hazel Quintanilla conspire to turn this almost tragedy into a beautiful story of love and family and acceptance. But here’s the surprise. Jack and Almost Jill manages to make both twinship and adoption the most enticingly special gifts that life might provide. And this is done without condescension or patronizing babble. In fact, the adult reader becomes engulfed by this transformative point of view – a lesson most effectively and touchingly presented by Ms. Ruchti and pictured by Ms. Quintanilla. For such a concise and compact little book, one cannot be even slightly untouched by the exuberance and joy radiating from its pages. A perfect little gem.

Jack Magnus

Jack and Almost Jill: A True Story of a Twin Adoption is a children’s picture book written by Jackie McReynolds-Ruchti and illustrated by Hazel Michelle Quintanilla Campos. Jackie and her twin brother, Jack, were born into a big family. Besides her mom and dad, there were already two sets of twins and another big sister. When their mom died only a week after Jack and Jackie were born, their father had a tremendous burden in singlehandedly taking care of all his children, especially the two new twins, while working at his job. There was no one to care for them while he was working to pay the bills and pay for food. The children’s aunt and uncle had a solution that worked perfectly for everyone. They would adopt Jack and Jackie and raise them along with their own kids. Everyone loved the idea. Jack and Jackie loved their new family, especially their new big sister and two brothers. They all lived on a farm where Jack and Jackie ran and played and loved to catch frogs. Jack and Jackie were special; they had two families that loved them so much. Their adopted family gave them all the love they could ever hope for, and then even more.

Jackie McReynolds-Ruchti’s children’s picture book, Jack and Almost Jill: A True Story of a Twin Adoption, introduces the subject of adoption to young children in an inspiring and heartwarming tale about two infants who are adopted when their mom dies. The author and her twin brother were adopted, and she wrote this book, which is her own story, to help children understand what adoption is and to realize that adopted children are indeed a beloved part of their family. Hazel Michelle Quintanilla Campos’ illustrations are marvelous and work quite well with the story. Each panel is brightly colored and cheerful. One of my favorite illustrations shows the twins’ exhausted father trying to make his furniture while his kids are running around the house and generally making a mess, but the best picture of all shows Jack and Jackie being held by their new parents with their new brothers and sisters all gathered around them. Being adopted can make kids feel different or less loved than other kids, but this book shows quite clearly why that’s not at all the case. Jack and Almost Jill: A True Story of a Twin Adoption is most highly recommended.

Barbara Fanson

Based on a true story of how Jackie and her twin brother, Jack, were adopted, Jack and Almost Jill is a colorful picture book of bright colors and fun artwork. Can you imagine a family with three sets of twins? A set of twin boys, twin girls, and a boy and a girl. Unfortunately, life changes drastically a week after they’re born—their mother passes away. Their father worked at the furniture factory and couldn’t look after all the children. Author Jackie McReynolds-Ruchti has created a picture book explaining what adoption is and how she and her brother were adopted by her mom’s sister and her husband. They were loved by their new family and their original family. Though their family considered changing Jackie’s name to Jill, like the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill, they decided not to.

Jack and Almost Jill is a picture book that will help everyone—adopted or non-adopted children—understand adoption and feel loved. Author Jackie McReynolds-Ruchti writes about her own adoption experience. She and her twin brother, Jack, were only a week old when their mother passed away. It was the hardest decision her father ever had to make, but he knew it would be difficult to look after all the children. By being adopted by an aunt, they were still able to see their original family. She loved growing up on the farm with her new brothers and sister. I like the overhead illustration of the family looking into the crib with the newest set of twins … it’s a rare aerial view. Illustrator Hazel Quintanilla has created simple, but fun artwork for Jack and Almost Jill. I also like the bold colors and textures in the background of text pages. Jack and Almost Jill is an interesting eye-opener about adoption that parents will enjoy reading to young children.

Ann Neville

Jack and Almost Jill by Jackie McReynolds-Ruchti is the true story of a twin adoption. In this autobiographical tale, infant twins Jack and Jackie are adopted and taken to a new home on a farm. With their new family, Jack and Jackie have adventures catching frogs and fireflies, eating tomato sandwiches, and playing pretend with their new big brothers and sister. They discover that the love in an adopted family is the same as in other families - because family is all about love. The book is illustrated by Hazel Michelle Quintanilla Campos. The illustrations are delightful and effectively depict the deep sadness of the father who has to relinquish his beautiful twins for a better life. They also show how much love, fun and support the twins receive in their new family.

In the writing of Jack and Almost Jill, Jackie McReynolds-Ruchti has sensitively addressed issues that children may feel if they are either adopted themselves, are children who have adopted siblings, or who know children who are adopted. The term 'adoption' is introduced in a child-friendly and positive manner and, in a case like this, it means the children have 'two families who think (they) are very special'. I found this a very positive story that would be of benefit for any young children, whether they are adopted or not. The accompanying illustrations give the message added depth. It is Jackie’s desire for adopted children to feel loved and accepted and she has certainly achieved her goal by telling this true story in Jack and Almost Jill.