Monday 28 September 2020


 Jelly-Boy by Nicole Godwin, Illustrated by Christopher Nielsen (Walker Books Australia, 2020) ISBN: 9781760651237 Hardback, colour illustrations RRP: $24.99

Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke

This picture book takes a fun approach to a serious subject. Conveying an important message but not preaching, this story deals with the overwhelming problem of plastic in the ocean through the magic of story.

The end papers show ghost-like shapes of jellyfish and plastic bags floating on a bright blue-green tide. The title page shows a mix of marine animals and litter in equal proportion, giving clues to the narrative.

I like the clear, large text and the bright, potato-print like illustrations. The underwater world is sentimentally portrayed in Nielsen’s abstract artwork. The text is clear and large: a lovely serif font (I wish more picture books used classic fonts) sometimes larger or bold for emphasis. Godwin tells the story in second person—like a farewell letter to the loved one— Jelly-Boy, the plastic bag that the love-lorn narrator has mistaken for a boy jellyfish.

There was family opposition. Love was strong. Trouble followed.  Bravery was needed. A tragic end ensued. All tongue-in-cheek, all with good humour, this is a fantastic, fun tale of love under the sea with an environmental message. With attractive presentation and high production values, this is a book for every school and library.

The premise of the story is of a doomed love affair . . . with plastic. We are all guilty of this, and however hard it is, we have to say—goodbye!


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