Thursday, August 25, 2022

Today's read... The Legend of Sally Jones by Jakob Wegelius

The name 'Sally Jones' might sound familiar to all those upper middle grade fans out there. As it should. The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius gained more than just a little attention when it was released a while back. Today's read is a companion book to that best-seller and tells the tale of Sally's past...before the other book begins. This is not a new release as it also came out a few years ago, but it's being re-released by Pushkin Children's Books coming November. The fact that it's a graphic novel caught my attention, too. How could I not agree to take a peek?

If you haven't grabbed up The Murderer's Ape, I do suggest you do that. Not because of this read, though, since this one can be read as a stand-alone. Rather, the first one is really worth a glimpse.

by Jakob Wegelius
translated by Peter Graves
Pushkin Children's Books
Upper Middle Grade Adventure
112 pages
ages 10 and up


The prequel to the award-winning international bestseller The Murderer's Ape

'Beautiful and engrossing... with a zing of poetic justice' - Observer

Deep in the African rainforest, in the midst of a tropical storm, a gorilla is born - a gorilla like no other.

This is the story of that gorilla's fantastic voyage across the world, from the Congolese jungle to the grand bazaar of Istanbul, from Borneo to London, Singapore and beyond. The story of a mysterious jewel thief and a sad sailor with a heart of gold. A story of friendship and adventure on the high seas.

This is the story of Sally Jones.



A bit nasty, a tad fierce, and more than a little cruel, this tale conquers the heart, lets true friendship shine, and proves that it's good not to give up...even if the second chance becomes a third or a fourth or more.

Sally Jones was kidnapped from her family when she was still very young. After that, she's transported around the world, trading hands of various 'owners' and fates. Some are cruel, some are kind, and some are not what they appear. Chains and bars are more common than a nice gesture, but even when her heart is broken time and again, she refuses to give up.

This is not a cute, cuddly story but allows horrible situations to pile on, one after the other. There are special moments of kindness and light, and these are what keeps everything from growing too dark. Hope is always there and friendship is true gold when found. This isn't a novel for younger, sensitive readers, but also doesn't hold anything, which the upper middle grade audience can't handle. Sally Jones goes through a lot...even questionable things...but there are over-reaching messages of friendship and hope, which strike all the more potent thanks to those darker scenes.

The illustrations are very well done and let the atmosphere hit the way it should. The text balances with these to let the scenes come to life. Some hold a scarier note just like the tale itself, and playful isn't really something to be found, but the good emotions come across as well as the bad. It's enjoyable to flip through these on their own and soak up each scene and character.

The text carries the tale more than is usual for many graphic novels, but this one, in general, has a flair of its own. It's concise and sticks with the adventures and events, allowing the illustrations to take over the scene descriptions and such. It works well and makes for a grabbing, quick read. I did read this in one sitting and was caught up in the tale from beginning to end.

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