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Jellaby Vol. 1 [Paperback]

Kean Soo
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 12 2008 1423103033 978-1423103035 1

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!


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Review

"A simply wonderful tale of friendship and whimsy, masterfully constructed with depth and moxie." -- Kirkus

"Sophisticated and thoughtful, this comic also has plenty of child appeal." -- School Library Journal

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great graphic novel for all ages! Sept. 11 2014
By AliKira
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This graphic novel for children is really wonderfully told. The imagination involved and the beautiful cute illustrations really suit the intended audience, and it is a pleasure to read for adults as well. I only wish that it were easier to find a copy of Jellaby or Jellaby in the City these days as Kean Soo's work is so wonderful to read!
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3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but not what I'd expected Feb. 2 2012
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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.

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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two eyes, two horns, no flying, doesn't eat people... but it IS purple Feb. 5 2008
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
You ever been in love? I don't mean the passing fancy of a crush or the slight flutter you feel when you're fifteen and desperately trying NOT to make eye contact with the object of your affection. I'm talking gut-sucking, heart-churning, complete and utter abstraction, distraction, fractal, fantastic obsession, elation, and absolution. The love that sucks out your breath and leaves you a hollow shaking wreck until you see your beloved again. That kind of love. I don't get that kind of feeling very often. It takes a special somebody. Someone with big blue eyes, a cute smile, maybe a jagged set of lower canines complemented nicely by a red-striped tail. Someone just like Jellaby. Man, the moment I read a mere three panels of this graphic novel I was a goner. "In love" doesn't even begin to cover it. I save my adoration for works of children's fiction that go above and beyond the call of duty and "Jellaby" is one of those comics that can charm you with the merest sigh or shuffle of the feet. With great art and a story to match, Kean Soo knocks it out of the park with this amazing comic that has successfully made the leap from screen to page.

It wasn't long ago that Portia and her mother moved to a new town to start their lives over. Portia hasn't made many friends since then, and she's just going through the motions in her classes as well. What better time to discover a huge purple monster in the back yard then? Naming the strange mute creature Jellaby, Portia unwittingly enlists the help of fellow student Jason, as they two search for a way to find the their new friend's true home. Their search may connect to Portia's missing father, a series of odd dreams she's been having, and a door that's miles and miles away. The stakes, it seems, can be high even when you don't know the rules.

Kean Soo was born in England, raised in Hong Kong, and currently resides in Canada. At a loss to describe what exactly Soo's style of drawing is I searched through the Web to find some kind of list of his influences. I pretty much came up with nothing, so all I can do is call it like I see it. Soo utilizes clean lines and a color palette of four colors: purple (mostly), red, and orange, and the tiniest spots of green. His kids are all big heads with tiny bodies, much as you'd find in something by Bill Watterson. Actually, in an interview with Newsrama, Soo said that initially there was a definite Calvin and Hobbes influence to his work. "I'd like to think that the characters have since overcome that." I'd agree. The physical similarities (not to mention the whole possibly-make-believe-character aspect) are there, but "Jellaby" is its own beast. So to speak.

In the book Understanding Comics, graphic novelist Scott McCloud spends a lot of time talking about how artists working in the comic medium will indicate "invisible ideas", particularly emotions, by distorting the backgrounds of their characters. Japanese comics in particular are adept at inventing these "expressionistic effects", which American comics have for the most part ignored. One of the things I loved about "Jellaby", was that Soo can invent an expressionistic effect like it's nobody's business. The first few pages of this book are chock full of them. When Portia is nervous these beautiful but clearly nerve induced purple lines curl and spiral out from her. Not paying attention is indicated by words growing tiny or appearing behind her head where they remain partially obscured. And when Soo wants you to see a scene from Portia's point of view he keeps most of the scene faint, then brings into sharp focus certain elements or characters. The book is filled with little moments like these. Heck, you could probably design an entire graduate course over Soo's use of technique and the emotional interplay between image and reader response. Even his sound effects are one-of-a-kind and interesting! Call this man the Canadian Katsuhiro Otomo.

It wasn't the cool colors or art or even the writing that made me love "Jellaby", though. It was the characters. Primarily Jellaby himself, of course. If you're going to create a gigantic monster friend, then you obviously need to make him a little lovable. Jellaby's a pretty shameless drawing too, when you sit right down and examine him. Following the rules of cuteness, his head is large in relation to his body, he has a high forehead, the arms are short, he has no neck, and the eyes are spaced low on the head and are unusually large and wide apart. Add in the prehensile tail that he'll occasionally clutch for comfort as well as his cute little legs and you have yourself one adorable monster. Soo knows that a graphic novel is only as strong as its "normal" characters, though, so we have Portia and Jason for our child stand-ins. And no kid on earth is going to read this and not want to be in Jason or Portia's shoes, if only for a second. The fact that you care for them too, purple tails or no, is why the book has its heart in the right place.

I'm sure that there's a lot I've missed in this book. The point when Portia transfers possession of her My Little Pony to Jellaby has some kind of significance. In that pony lies Portia's memories of her disappearing father. And are the names "Portia" and "Jason" significant? What else have I missed? Online, "Jellaby" has already been nominated for an Eisner Award, which suggests that it has fans already firmly in place. It brings to mind another successful webcomic to book crossover (Diary of a Wimpy Kid anyone?) and you can't help wondering if Hyperion is hoping to mimic Wimpy Kid's success. If so, they couldn't have picked a better subject. Touching, fun, funny, and mysterious by turns, don't be surprised if this little graphic novel ends up being one of the favorites of the year.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the combination of cute and seriousness didn't work for me, Just OK Feb. 1 2012
By Nicola Mansfield - Published on Amazon.com
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.

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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: Jellaby April 26 2008
By T. Jonker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars Super cute graphic novel for children about friendship Dec 1 2013
By K. Eckert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. It was a cute little read and I enjoyed it. I think younger kids will enjoy it as well.

Portia is a lonely and very smart little girl who has just moved to a new town with her mother. She’s having trouble fitting in at school, her mother is somewhat distant, and her father is missing. Then one night she wanders into the woods and happens to run across a sweet and lost purple monster named Jellaby. Portia’s life gets a lot more exciting with Jellaby hanging around.

This is a very cute and sweet little book, but it is just the beginning of a larger story. The illustration is pretty simple and very cartoony. The pictures are all done in purple tones, I really think it would have been better in full color...but the author does have an explanation for why he used purple tones at the end of the book.

The story is just the beginning of a larger story and very simple. Still it was cute and well done and at times pretty funny. Portia is a sad and lonely girl and it was fun to see her cheer up in Jellaby’s company and even make another friend at school through the secret of Jellaby.

There is a little mystery here about finding out what happened to Portia’s dad, but that really wasn’t addressed in this story much.

It’s a well done and cute little book. Definitely appropriate for younger children to middle grade kids. I think given the simplicity of the story children will enjoy this more than most adults.

Overall an adorable little graphic novel. The drawing is done in purple tones and is very simple and cartoony but does a good job of showing the characters’ emotions. The story is well done but simple, I think kids will enjoy this. Right now I am on the fence about whether or not I will read future books in the series, I am kind of curious as to what will happen next...but there just wasn’t a complicated enough story here for me.
5.0 out of 5 stars Adorable Sept. 3 2013
By Kayla's Reads and Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This was adorable. I recommend it for any age group. I'll have to see if I can find the second one at the library.
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