Ten-year-old Portia is having a tough time adjusting to her new neighborhood, life at home without her father, and the kids at school who give her a hard time. Complicating things even more, she happens upon a giant purple monster in her backyard, though the monster is not so scary (aside from trying to eat her flashlight, that is). She starts an unlikely friendship with Jellaby and strives to keep the monster a secret. That does not last long when a lonely little boy named Jason starts snooping around.
This book is charming, fantastical, and yet firmly grounded in reality, with very real life circumstances and well-defined characters. It is the creation of Kean Soo, a Canadian-Asian artist who began the story as a webcomic at The Secret Friend Society, a site run jointly with his artist colleague Hope Larson. Soo does not have many credits in comics as of yet, but he publishes frequently in Flight, where Jellaby first appeared. This interview contains lots of information about his life and work.
Jellaby is a book that has much to offer readers of many ages. Esther Keller was impressed with Soo's craft, noting that "the art and story work together seamlessly, so that the reader will have to read the pictures as well as the words to get a full story – and all the jokes." Michael Jung praised the book, writing that "with his oversized head, huge mouth, and expressive eyes that seem simultaneously naïve and intelligent, Jellaby is a monster any kid (or adult) would fall in love with." J. Caleb Mozzocco added, "This is a great little suburban adventure story that I'd recommend to just about anyone of any age." Personally, I very much enjoyed the book and was extremely disappointed when I came to the end and found I had to wait for a sequel.
Luckily, the sequel is out now, but there is also bad news. This first book is now out of print, but the first 64 pages, as well as a few short stories can be found here from the webcomic site.