Little Owls Books

Hemisha Camtar-McClean, Independent Usborne Organiser


Book Review - Jemima Small Versus the Universe

21st June 2019

Jemima Small is funny and super smart. She knows a lot of things. Like the fact that she's made of 206 bones, over 600 muscles and trillions of cells. What she doesn't know is how that can be true and yet she can still feel like nothing.

Jemima also knows that she hates being called "Jemima Big", and that being forced to join the school's "special" healthy lifestyle group - A.K.A. Fat Club - makes her feel anything but special. It also makes her question her dream of applying for her favourite TV quiz show, Brainiacs. Her teachers all think she's the perfect candidate. But over three million people watch the show. If she were to get through, the audience would surely only see what she sees when she studies her reflection: Jemima Big.

Despite the encouragement of her frazzled dad, wacky Aunt Luna and best friend Miki (and occasionally her irritating brother, Felix...), Jemima is certain that she doesn't have what it takes. Plus, with the dreaded school camping trip looming on the horizon, she has enough to worry about in between dodging swimming, abseiling, kayaking and nasty comments from Lottie Freeman.

But Jemima finds support in the unlikeliest of places. With the backing of her new friends, can she find the courage to pursue her dream? After all, human bodies share the same elements as stars, and the biggest stars in the universe shine the brightest...

Jemima Small Versus the Universe is funny, inspiring and, most importantly, reminds us all of the importance of learning to be happy with who we are. Exploring the challenges faced by many children today, Jemima's touching first person narrative feels so authentic as it tackles issues including self-esteem, body confidence and navigating school life with humour and heart.

An important reminder not to put limits on what you think you can do because of what other people might think, young (and older!) readers will undoubtedly benefit from spending time with Jemima Small.

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