Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer

h1 June 30th, 2020 by jules


Today, I’ve got some spreads from one of my favorite summer reads, Gillian Goerz’s Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer (Dial, July 2020). Gillian also shares some early sketches and such from this, her first graphic novel. (Pictured above are drawings of the two main characters.)

This is the story, set in Canada, of two girls who strike up a friendship and — bonus! — solve a mystery together. But that basic summary doesn’t quite capture the many delights of this book. It’s a story whose biggest strength lies in its detailed, whip-smart characterizations.

Jamila Waheed, age 10 and fond of basketball, has just moved with her family to a new neighborhood. She knows no other children — that is, until she meets Shirley Bones. Both girls are dismayed that their mothers want to send them to summer camps, and the two decide that the way to avoid that is to spend the summer together. As Shirley puts it, “I’ll go with you to the basketball court on Robert Street every day. As long as we’re together, our mothers should let us go out on our own.” And Shirley’s summer goal? Well, she likes simply to observe people, because the best way to solve crimes is to quietly and consistently keep your eyes on the town’s goings-on. Jamila thinks Shirley is strange, but agreeing to hang out with her on the basketball court, where Jamila’s mother stipulates she must stay, is better than camp.

But then Jamila, who has trouble making sense of her new oddball friend, is talked into leaving the court one day when a boy named Oliver says his pet gecko is missing. Thus begins Shirley and Jamila’s summer crime-solving campaign that facilitates not only some new friendships for both of them, but allows the two girls to come to understand one another in meaningful ways.

There’s so much about this story that rings true, and these dynamic, fully-formed characters leap from the page. (Shirley and Jamila make an indelible pair.) The detective work will thrill readers who love mysteries, and Goerz’s cleanly drawn artwork is particularly expressive. Here are some spreads (I even got to pick some of my favorites) so that, as always, the art can do the talking. And I thank Gillian for sharing these preliminary images.


Preliminary Images:


Gillian: “My palette for when I was colouring.”
(Click image to enlarge)


Gillian: “The character line-up (without the big mess above).”
(Click image to enlarge)




Gillian: “[The three images above are] early sketches of Jamila, Shirley, and
Jamila’s brothers (done in pencil and brush pen).”

(Click each image to enlarge)


Gillian: “A rejected idea for the cover.”


Gillian: “The first version of what we finally landed on.”


Some Final Spreads:



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

SHIRLEY & JAMILA SAVE THEIR SUMMER. Copyright © 2020 by Gillian Goerz. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Dial Books for Young Readers, New York. Preliminary images reproduced by permission of Gillian Goerz.

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