My daughter, Angela, at age 9, sought to communicate with the jelly monsters directly and for once I had not been able to intercept her letter and answer for them. She had been exchanging letters with a young jelly monster named Berry and his uncle Jelly Junior, whom I had known 40 years ago, since she first heard the stories I wrote down several years ago in 15 chapters or some 17,000 words, and their silence was an awakening similar to when children first learn there is no Santa Claus Ė or rather, that the virtual Santa Claus that does exist is so much the greater because he is able to make adults be more than they ever could be by themselves.
I think this shock was good for her in the end. I too have been fighting with the contrast between the fantasy world of the jelly monsters I (7) first described to my brother, Peter (5), more than 40 years ago and the stark realism I associated with the National Geographicís my other brother, Roger (9) kept hidden in his closet.
I feel I can share the vision of my first encounters with the jelly monsters now that Angela has become more engrossed in some of my other fantasies. Perhaps later she will allow me to write about the world the jelly monsters showed her in their letters-- I know how fascinating it was to me as father to watch her read those letters and compose her replies, and see a world take shape as she explored it with them.
For now, I want to share these strange beings and hope they can stimulate the fantasies of other children and parents as they did ours.
The narrator, David (8), tells about his brother, Peter's (6), birthday party -- and especially the chocolate train cake. But all is not well. The toys have moved by themselves and everyone knows they cannot do that. The solution must be there are ghosts or monsters. That's only logical. Grown-ups cannot see anything that is not ordinary, however. Even when their mother finds jelly all over the toys her solution is only to wash it down the drain.
Their parents reason that jelly sandwiches are enough for dinner, but when they go to bed, David thinks he needs more food -- and he knows there is a chocolate cake in the refrigerator. When they sneak down to get it, however, they encounter what must be a monster in a jelly jar -- and their parents who believe more in kidsí wanting chocolate cake than monsters.
In a second attempt, they see it is a jelly monster and end up all small inside the refrigerator with broken jelly jars on the floor. Again, their parents believe more in the mess and even criticize the attempt to blame it on jelly monsters.
Things change when they find some of the jelly is really a baby jelly monster. Jelly Jr. does not help his case, however, by making himself only visible as a monster to the kids and later by doing magic on the cat and dog.
But that is soon resolved. The problem remains to get Jelly Jr. home. That night, the kitchen is filled with his jelly monster family and the kids end up small again. But their parents see only the mess and are mad.
Restricted to their room, David and Peter get a letter s from the red jelly monster that self-destruct, but cannot share it with their parents who would never believe it. Instead, they share the information with their friends at school and together meet the jelly monsters, have numerous adventures, become small, and ride on the back of the cat.
But their parents are not amused and the jelly monsters almost get washed down the drain. To apologize, David and Peter visit the jelly monsters at home. They get along easily with the young jelly monsters and even their mother, but their father doesn't trust big people any more than David and Peterís believe in jelly monsters.
David and Peter agree to let the jelly monsters into the supermarket and get into trouble when all the jelly jars are broken to liberate three friends trapped inside. Their parents must pay a huge fine for the damage and take them camping to dispel the tension that must have caused this crisis. David and Peter can only tell their classmates the truth in half whispers.
But during the vacation, David and Peter fall off a cliff and are only saved by the jelly monsters. It seems all has turned out for the best as their parents cannot help believing now.
When they return, they find chaos as their classmates are picketing the supermarket for hurting jelly monsters. Only with difficulty are David and Peter able to convince everyone that they can separate the jelly monsters from the jelly.
When it is time for David's birthday party, Jelly Jr. plays with the kids., but remains small and is not seen by the grown-ups. They understand jelly monsters their own way and David and Peterís explanation is no more than an advertising bonanza. Even their parents cannot believe for long and the father Jelly monster overhears one grown-upís solution -- that they merely wash them down the drain. The children protest but grown-up big people and jelly monsters alike cannot see eye to eye.