Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Publisher: Hyperion Books, 2008
Read the first two chapters and Jellaby shorts on The Secret Friend Society
Story: Portia's bored. Her elementary school classes are too easy. Her mom's always working. There's nothing to do. Until one night Portia has a strange dream. She wakes up and sees something out in the woods. It's a monster! But the monster is more scared than she is, so she takes it home.
Thoughts: I loved this book. Portia is too smart for her own good. She has no friends. The teachers don't understand her. Only Jellaby and her mom accept her for who she is. Is Portia really good at hiding the huge, purple monster, or are Portia and her friend Jason, aka carrot boy, the only ones who can see him?
The comparison of Jellaby to Calvin and Hobbes can't be avoided. The art style is even similar. But having another person interact with Jellaby makes him much more real. In fact, there's no indication that he's imaginary. When Portia and Jellaby first meet and they are just having fun together, it made my day. But the story quickly progresses to the quest to find Jellaby's home. This is only the first book, so there's more to come.
Art: Jellaby's black and white drawings with purple shading lend a muted and surreal feeling to the panels, especially the scary ones at night. There are some splashes of carrot boy orange to provide a pop of color.
Final thoughts: Read it now! But make sure you have Jellaby: Monster in the City nearby because you won't want it to end.
Grade: 5 out of 5