Let me begin by giving full praise to the original cover of "The Great Gilly Hopkins". I've seen the reissued covers and they fill me with sadness. On the original front cover is Gilly Hopkins herself. Hands placed firmly on her waist, elbows akimbo, she's blowing a bubble the size of her head. Her hair is short and mousy colored and she's wearing a shirt that I myself wore, I'm certain, in 1982. On the back cover the bubble has popped all over her face, giving her an odd bubbley mask. Compare such a beautiful illustration of this human being with the current spunky pink cheeked aw-ain't-she-sweet kid on the current covers. For shame, Mr. Publisher. For shame.
Now this book is great. Doggone it, I do this with every Katherine Paterson book. I walk in with the vague hope of not hating the book (paging "Bridge to Terebithia") and end up loving it as much as everyone else in the world loves it. What is not to like about this book? You begin with a thoroughly unlikable character. Sure, maybe she's been having some ups and downs in her life, but she's a racist, thieving, conniving little brat. And doggone it if you don't end up loving the little whelp by the end. Gilly changes, the reader changes with her, and the people around her are great. And the ending is far from perfect for poor Gilly, but she did bring it on herself and she's strong enough to survive it. The book's got pep, the girl's got pep, and the whole thing is thoroughly enjoyable. Two thumbs way way up for the Gilly gal.