Picture Books – Jumpy Jack and Googily

Jumpy Jack is a snail. Googily is…well, at the very least, he is Jumpy Jack’s friend. He also appears to be a monster of some sort, albeit a monster wearing a bowler hat and hanging around with a talking snail. Jumpy Jack’s name is well earned, as he is a very anxious gastropod. Around every corner, behind every tree, under every table, Jumpy Jack is convinced that a monster is lurking. He gives details about the monsters he is terrified of, apparently unaware that he is perfectly describing his best friend. Luckily for them both, no monsters – apart from Googily, that is – are to be found. However, as bedtime approaches, Googily admits to his own fear: there might be a SOCK lurking underneath his bed!

The illustrations, done in Chinese ink and watercolors by Sophie Blackwell, are not as eye-poppingly bright as many other children’s books. However, the colors glow with their own color, and the effect is much more in keeping with the tone of the book. There is almost – though not quite – an old-fashioned feel to the illustrations that lends them extra depth. Perhaps it is simply Googily’s bowler hat that gives this impression. Most of the illustrations are done on a white background, focusing the eye on the two main characters.

A gentle story of friendship, this book will surely be popular amongst children. Even very young children that don’t seem to “get” the joke about Jumpy Jack being scared of monsters still appear to enjoy the book simply for the illustrations of pointy-toothed Googily. Author Meg Rosoff managed to find just the right tone of humor without mocking her characters.

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