There are graphic novels that stroll in, hit their mark, and bring the GN lover what they’re looking for. The recent “Amulet: The Stonekeeper” comes to mind. If you’re into the genre, you’ll be a fan – but it’s not necessarily recruiting new believers. Then there are your 741.5’s that have the ability to bring readers into the fold who have not considered said fold an option. “Jellaby” is one of those books. Honest emotional moments, humor, and mystery combine to make one of the best books of Aught 8.
Portia is an outsider, but not for the usual reasons. She’s smart and thoughtful. Her intelligence draws ire from her classmates and leaves her bored in her studies. One night, after a strange dream, Portia discovers a scared monster behind her house. How the purple creature ended up in her yard is not clear, but Portia is determined to keep her new friend a secret while she figures things out. In her efforts to keep “Jellaby” hush hush, she inadvertently pulls classmate Jason into the mix. Now they’re partners. A tip from Jellaby about her (his?) possible origins results in a secret trip to Toronto to find out the truth. The story ends just before the threesome reach the big city, with plans for a second book to wrap up the tale.
I can’t help but think of one of my favorite movies, “The Iron Giant”, when reading this book. There is something about an outsider finding friendship with a really outsider that draws you in. The illustrations are on point throughout, using just a few colors to get the job done. Overall, the effect is an artful and beautifully subtle story that leaves you eager for more.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
Click Here to read a brand new interview with author/illustrator Kean Soo at A Fuse #8 Production.