Capstone is bringing Kean Soon’s Jellaby back to print, and I couldn’t be happier. I came across the book on NetGalley, and am so happy that Capstone gave me the chance to read it.
Jellaby: The Lost Monster is the first volume in the Jellaby series. The all-ages story about friendship also tackles some big issues within a safe space for kids.
Portia is a 10 year-old girl, being raised by her mom. Her dad has disappeared, and while her mom won’t talk about it, Portia has dreams that may hold the answer. Portia is a lonely little girl who drifts through her days. She’s smarter than most of her classmates, who fade into the background as she goes about her business. Her mom seems to work late often, leaving Portia alone.
One night, a big, purple and pink monster appears in her backyard, sad and hungry. Portia befriends the monster, whom she later names Jellaby, and promises to help him find his home. Because “everyone should be with their mom and dad”. Jellaby encourages Portia to befriend Jason, another boy on his own at home, and bullied at school. Together, Jason and Portia attempt to find out where Jellaby is from, so they can bring him home.
The book is a story of friendship, but addresses issues of bullying, absent parents, and grief and loss. Soo’s story never delves into too-scary territory, merely introducing the ideas and the stories attached to them, moving away before the narrative goes into a dark place. We understand there is more to come, but that the full story will come at a pace children can work with.
I love the art, rendered mainly in purples and whites rather than black and white, which makes for a less harsh mode of storytelling. The characters that have the most currency in Portia’s world – Jellaby and Josh – have color that sets them apart from everyone else. Jellaby is purple with pink stripes that match Portia’s barrettes, and Josh wears a bright orange t-shirt with a picture of favorite food, a carrot, on it.
Kean Soo’s website has some Jellaby webcomics and a preview of the book’s first two chapters available.
Capstone knows children’s books and graphic novels, and appears to be gearing up for a Jellaby push. The Lost Monster hits shelves on March 1, with a sequel, Jellaby: Monster in the City, promised. There will also be a Jellaby Free Comic Day Book, The Adventures of Jellaby, on April 9th.
The Jellaby series is a great series for ages 7-12, and provides a lot of great ideas for a family read-aloud and discussion. I’ll be on the lookout for more Jellaby! 5 out of 5 snuggly purple monsters.
JELLABY: THE LOST MONSTER
Writer: Kean Soo
Artist: Kean Soo
Release Date: March 1, 2014
THE ADVENTURES OF JELLABY
Writer : Kean Soo
Artist: Kean Soo
Release Date: April 9, 2014
Diamond ID: JAN140025