Narwhal and Jelly is a new series that focuses on two unusual friends and the fun they have together. Fans of Elephant & Piggie or Bob Shea’s Ballet Cat will enjoy these beginning-level graphic novels.
Graphic novel, fiction
Interest Level: K-3; Reading Level: 2.4
5 out of 5 stars
Narwhal and Jelly are two of the cutest characters in children’s literature. Each time I read Narwhal: unicorn of the sea! I find myself grinning from ear to ear.
Narwhal certainly doesn’t lack self-confidence. He considers himself to be “really awesome,” and quite frankly, who doesn’t think narwhals are awesome! Narwhal is rather clueless about things other than himself though, so when he meets Jelly, the jellyfish, they have a funny conversation about whether or not each other are real. Jelly has never seen a narwhal before, and Narwhal thinks that Jelly certainly looks like jelly, but not so much like a fish, so he’s not sure jellyfish are real either. In the end, Narwhal suggest they become imaginary friends and they both discover a love for waffles. Ben Clanton’s illustrations are relatively simple, but they still manage to portray emotion and action. The book is formatted almost like a cross between a graphic novel, with some pages containing sequential panel illustrations, and a picture book, with full page scenes. Narwhal and Jelly will be a series of books. Each book contains five different short story chapters. Overall, these are great books for readers who are graduating from Elephant & Piggie picture books and have the stamina for a longer graphic novel story.
The different stories in each book focus on friendship and fun. Narwhal seems mostly concerned with himself, but we learn that he is also a little clueless about relationships, so it is good that Jelly is around to balance out his harmless airhead personality.
Certain threads run throughout the books in the series. The two characters share a love for waffles and invent stories that feature a kung fu waffle and his strawberry sidekick. Each book also contains a chapter that presents interesting facts about sea creatures. The themes of friendship and inclusion make the Narwhal and Jelly stories truly special.
I highly recommend Narwhal and Jelly — they make readers smile and leave you feeling warm and happy.
Narwhal: unicorn of the sea!
by Ben Clanton
Tundra Books, 2016
Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt
by Ben Clanton
Tundra Books, 2017