Journey to Jumbalot

Children - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
200 Pages
Reviewed on 12/26/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Ryan Wakefield has worked primarily as a graphic artist for the last 20 years, but he always dreamt about creating a fantasy world young readers can escape to. Since grade school, he was fascinated with animal hybrids. He loved the idea of blending two or three animals together to create a magnificent new species. This fascination and his love for fantasy inspired him to fulfill his lifelong dream to breathe life into a new world middle grade readers can explore - Jumbalot.

He's also the proud co-parent of a silly pug named Lily, and a sometimes difficult feline named Rocky. The book's protagonist, Alby, is based on Ryan's first pet: an oversized black and white housecat named Albert. The only thing larger than Albert's appetite was his heart and he is sorely missed. Also, the character of Queen Lola was based on his wife's first pug named Lola. Sadly, Lola recently succumbed to poor health and will also be deeply missed.

Ryan and his wife encourage everyone to open their hearts and their homes to adoptable pets.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Foluso Falaye for Readers' Favorite

Journey to Jumbalot by Ryan Wakefield takes readers on a gripping adventure with many wonderful creatures. Professor Wizoom is excited to build a doorway into another world, but his cat, Alby, is afraid to lose him since he had lived as a stray cat for two years before meeting him. When the professor suddenly vanishes, Alby walks through the doorway to search for him and discovers he is in the realm of Jumbalot, a world filled with weird creatures: sharks that breathe above water, animals with the features of tigers and kangaroos in the same body, and other interesting hybrids. Alby soon makes friends with a funny "froguar" named Fremmy, who helps him on his search and takes him on a new mission to find a gem that had been stolen from a pyramid palace by an evil tyrant.

Ryan Wakefield brings new fantastic ideas to young readers aged 11 to 14 in Journey to Jumbalot. There's just so much to like in this mix of magical war scenes, captivating adventurous exploits, and creative hybrid animals. Journey to Jumbalot has a strong portrayal of themes of heroism, altruism, revenge, tyranny, and a battle for power between good and evil forces. Each character is distinct and memorable, and the main protagonist is as adorable and cute as a cat character should be. I especially enjoyed the different references to cats, like "nine lives" and "catnaps". Journey to Jumbalot would be great for cat lovers, animal lovers, and readers who enjoy books that immerse them in a world of magic and different types of envisioned creatures.

Debjani Ghosh

Alby is a cat. He enjoys his belly rubs, a bowl full of food, and ear scratches given by his owner, the eccentric Professor Wizoom. However, when Wizoom constructs a portal to another world and does not return after stepping into it one fateful day, Alby is left with no choice but to follow him through the portal. Thus starts a wild adventure for Alby. He enters the world of Jumbalot which is full of bizarre creatures. But even before he can absorb the shock of seeing such creatures, he learns that both Wizoom and Jumbalot are in danger. Can this common house cat save them in time? Read Journey to Jumbalot by Ryan Wakefield to find out the answer.

Wakefield has crafted a perfect fantasy book for the middle-grade audience. Jumbalot is full of magic and adventure. I had a blast of a time reading about the numerous creatures inhabiting Jumbalot. A few examples are froguar (a mixture of a frog and jaguar) and a pandowl (guess what it can be). Wakefield's fertile imagination is reflected throughout the book. Moreover, Journey to Jumbalot imparts many important lessons such as being brave, overcoming self-doubt, and not underestimating anyone, to name a few. This is another reason why the book will appeal powerfully to kids. Further, the book is vividly descriptive. The war scenes were spectacularly rendered which reflects the author's graphic designer background. Additionally, the illustrations of different animals at the beginning of every chapter elevate the book to a new level. Overall, I enjoyed reading Journey to Jumbalot by Ryan Wakefield and would recommend it to readers aged 11-14.

Romuald Dzemo

Journey to Jumbalot by Ryan Wakefield is an enthralling fantasy well-crafted for middle graders, a tale of adventure packed with action and multiple surprises. Alby, a cat with black-and-white fur, is a loyal house pet and Professor Wizoom is fond of him. In the afternoon, Alby hears a loud sound coming from the professor’s laboratory. Curiosity leads him to the door and, amidst the strange lights, a voice coming through the door entices him. Alby decides to move closer as he hears, “Please help them,” and “Find your courage.” Stepping through the door, Alby is transported to a strange new world, where he meets and befriends a little froguar called Fremmy. Fremmy tells Alby that he is in the world of Jumbalot. Fremmy will help Alby find the missing professor. Thus begins an adventure in a world inhabited by strange and dangerous creatures. Can Alby and Fremmy survive the challenges, outwit the villains, and find and bring the professor home?

Ryan Wakefield’s writing is atmospheric, and the entire story is imaginative. The author invents a unique fantasy world inhabited by intelligent hybrid animals called jumbos—pandowls, mantaravens, wolvaraptors, and tigeroons are just a few of them. There are exciting moments like riding Troonix’s fast-moving wind wagon, Rozer’s ship with its monstrous Ironside, and many more. The humor is plentiful, and the quirkiness of some of the characters augments the excitement that readers experience as they follow this adventure. Journey to Jumbalot is a fascinating tale that makes great material for a fantasy movie for children. It is fast-paced and filled with surprises. I savored every bit of the story.