Written by Meg Rosoff and Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Henry Holt and Company, 2008
“I’m nervous,” said Jumpy Jack to his best friend, Googily. “There could be a monster nearby and I’m scared of monsters.”
The plot in a nutshell: Jumpy Jack needs continued reassurance that there are no monsters nearby.
As I’ve mentioned before, I frequently take home books because the artwork captivates me. This book got me with its title. I chose it from the spine, without even seeing its cover art. Of course, once I saw the cover art, featuring a monster with a bowler hat, I knew it would live up to its title.
Jumpy Jack is a snail, who has a particular fear of monsters. Googily is his best friend and roommate, who actually IS a monster, although Jumpy Jack doesn’t seem to have noticed. During their walk home, their teatime and their preparation for bed, Jumpy Jack keeps worrying about monsters and has Googily check to make sure there are none around. What keeps this a funny concept throughout the book are the fact that the monster Jumpy Jack describes becomes more and more like Googily every time, and Googily continues to respond with comments about how ridiculous and far-fetched the notion is. But, as a true friend, he goes and checks every time.
Author Meg Rosoff keeps the story light and funny and artist Sophie Blackall’s ink and watercolor artwork keeps the characters comical and endearing. I love the little touches, like the ramp that leads up to Jumpy Jack’s bed (because he’s a snail…how else is he going to get into it?). Another favorite element of mine is that, each time we see Googily checking for monsters, the picture highlights whatever feature of his Jumpy Jack has just mentioned. It’s a nudge and a wink to the reader that keeps the comic feeling of the story throughout, making this a definite recommendation to any kids who worry about monsters under their beds.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that when you find a friend who always has your back, it’s easy to overlook whatever little flaws they may have.