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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.