23. Jellaby by Kean Soo

Jellaby by Kean Soo (Canada) - (US)
Jellaby, Vol. 1

Pages: 144
Ages: 10+
Finished: Jan. 20, 2012
First Published: 2008
Publisher: Hyperion
Genre: children, graphic novel, fantasy
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

Thank you for your excellent report, Jason, now if we can ... Portia? 

Acquired: Borrowed a copy from my local library.

Reason for Reading:  I've wanted to read this since I first heard of it, then I read a short story in a recent Flight anthology.  Somebody recently reviewed it in one of the challenges I'm in and that prompted me to finally read it.

Publisher's Summary: "Quiet, brilliant Portia has just moved to a new neighborhood with her mom. Adjusting to life without a father is hard enough, but school is boring and her classmates are standoffish -- and even Portia’s mom is strangely distant. But things start looking up when Portia mounts a late-night excursion into the woods behind her house and discovers a shy, sweet-natured purple monster. Life with Jellaby is a lot more exciting, but Portia’s purple friend has secrets of his own; secrets that may even lead to the mystery of Portia’s father’s disappearance!"

A quick read with cute illustrations.  Certainly more serious than I thought it would be, which came as a surprise.  A cute purple monster just makes you think it's going to be a silly book but it's not and it's not for young children either as there are serious themes, mainly Portia's absent father and her friend Jason's obviously neglectful parents who are never home.  Portia also has nightmares which are disturbing and could be frightening to younger or sensitive children, so do pay attention to the recommended age of ten plus.  The book isn't silly but that doesn't mean it isn't funny.  It has it's moments and I did enjoy Jellaby as a character.  However, I just didn't connect with the book as other's have done.  The children felt much younger than they are supposed to be which was off-putting and the fact that Portia doesn't know where her dad is seems strange once it is apparent that he is somewhere.  I'm pretty sure I know what happened to him, but we will have to find out in the second book.  This book is also very much a "Part 1" as it ends with them going off on a journey and the words "to be continued".  I know most people love this book but "just OK" for me; the combination of cute and seriousness didn't work for me, plus I had a lot of unanswered questions.  I also questioned the nature of Jellaby, whether he was an "imaginary" friend, evidence points otherwise and yet still the question lingers.