There’s a lot to like about Jumper, the first in a series of children’s picture books by Californian writer Rebecca Scarberry.
For starters, its hero is rather different from your typical children’s book character. Instead of focusing events around a child or a personified animal, Scarberry allows us to see the world through the eyes of Jumper, a cute red beach ball who is determined to escape confinement in a toy shop and travel to Carnival Castle – a nearby amusement park that Jumper has overheard kids enthusing about.
An inanimate object stuck in an enclosure may not sound like fertile ground for an adventure; after all, he can’t actually move anywhere of his own accord. But luckily for Jumper, external forces seem to be on his side. The wind (or Mr. Wind as he is amusingly called in the book) helps to blow him out of his cage, a little bird attempts to free him from a bush at one point, and children are forever picking him up, bouncing him and kicking him around (it’s OK, he enjoys it – he’s a beach ball, remember).
It’s not always plain sailing for Jumper, as each time he escapes the toy shop, he soon gets spotted by the toy shop staff and finds himself back at square one. For younger children (the story is aimed at four- to seven-year-olds), the story may be a little too slow and detailed in this respect, as it does take Jumper several attempts to make any significant progress. Still, Jumper is a plucky little fella, and his lust for life and can-do attitude should help keep most kids enthralled right up to the book’s satisfying conclusion.
The quirky story is complemented by the idiosyncratic artwork by Terri Kelleher, whose bold and colourful paintings give the book an organic, traditional feel that is often lacking in this Nickelodeon age, and it just adds to the book’s charm. If you’re looking for an original story that will captivate your child or grandchild, Jumper may be just the ticket.