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Review: Jellaby: Monster in the City

One of the most anticipated sequels in my library was Jellaby: Monster in the City.  I lost count of how many times students would come asking for a sequel.  Some of my frequent flyers would ask when the next book was coming out two or three times a month.  While hearing the same question over and over again is a little bit irritation, the delight in seeing children excited about one book is really no match for said irritation.  Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to buy the sequel to Jellaby in time for the end of the school year.  But come September, I know those who constantly asked me about this title will not be disappointed.

Jellaby: Monster in the City
By Kean Soo
Ages 10 and up
Hyperion c2009 ISBN 978-142310565-7
172 p. $9.99

In volume 1, we left Portia, Jellaby and Jason as they jumped off a train because of a strange man that had frightened Portia.  The three were on their way to the city, following a lead that would help find out where Jellaby originally came from.  At a carnival, they are drawn to an underground world where they are met by a fearsome monster – which bears a striking resemblance to Jellaby – but is bigger and very different.  Aside from looks, this monster doesn’t share Jellaby’s sweet and gentle look that makes you want to stuff him and put him (or her?) on your bed, and the monster has a cruel personality that comes with a vicious temper. 
The monster is bent on keeping some human down under with it as a companion. Whether or not the human wants to stay.  Jason is the monter’s latest target and it’s up to Portia to save Jason.  Yet Portia is battling her own confusion and fright as she tries to sort out her feelings over her dad’s sudden departure. 
 Soo’s artwork tells as much of the story as the words.  Jellaby, who never says a word, is far more developed in this volume than in the last.  The monster conveyed so many different expressions.  Fright, confusion, hunger, happiness.  Children of all ages will fall in love with the gentle monster. And Jellaby is quite dedicated to his (or her?) two friends.  Portia is also more well drawn and more well developed as we learn more about why she is so sad and lonely and how it all ties in to her father.  Soo chooses to keep using the purple shading in this volume, though he adds more color every so often.  Each time color is added, it draws attention to the artwork, bringing it to another level.
While this volume doesn’t end with the same cliff hanger as volume 1, it definitely leaves many loose ends.  Here’s hoping for a volume 3 in the near future.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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