Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Kean Soo
Graphic Novel
For ages 8 to 12
Jellaby, 2014   ISBN: 978-1434264206

Portia Bennett gets by in life but she does not really enjoy life much. She lives with her mother, has no real friends, and feels very alone much of the time. When she was younger her father disappeared and her mother refuses to talk about what happened, which puts a strain on their relationship.

One night, after she has been woken up by a bad dream, Portia hears something moving outside. When she goes to see what is out there she comes face to face with a large-eyed purple monster. The creature seems harmless enough and Portia invites him to come home with her. After all, it is hungry and she can't just leave it in the woods all alone.

While Portia is in school the monster waits for her outside. Later Portia and the monster watch as one of Portia's classmates, Jason, is being bullied, and the monster wants to step in to stop the big bullies from beating Jason up. Portia, not wanting the monster to be seen for obvious reasons agrees to do what she can to help.

The end result is that Jason and Portia both get into trouble and Jason sees the monster. Later, at Jason's house, Portia gives the monster a name, Jellaby. She is convinced that Jellaby is lost, and when he points to a picture of a door at Exhibition Place - where there is going to be a Halloween Fair the next day – she and Jason decide to take Jellaby there. Perhaps they will find out where he belongs.

Together the children put together a plan so that they can go to the city and get to Exhibition Place. What they don't know is that a sinister man is very interested in them.

This delightful graphic novel introduces children to brilliant but lonely Portia, bullied Jason, and a purple monster who will eat anything and who is a complete charmer. Underneath the immediate story of Jellaby and the children there is the mystery of what happened to Portia's father. Wonderfully illustrated, often funny, and at times poignant, this graphic novel will have readers begging for more.