jQuery is badass, and if you have any experience coding at all you can make some pretty classy animation effects in just a short while. Hell, even if you don’t have any experience coding, I bet you could start banging out weird flying stuff in a couple hours. These are my recommendations for learning jQuery:
jQuery: Novice to Ninja from Sitepoint. Sitepoint offers a lot of great instructional content, but this book is particularly good. It covers the very basics, starting with how to download and include the jQuery library. The book shows you how to build various plugins from scratch such as a lightbox and an accordion menu.
Next, I highly recommend jQuery for Absolute Beginners. This series is the best set of jQuery tutorials I’ve come across. Before you’re even halfway through the videos, you’ll have a great grasp of how to use the library effectively. I’ve used these myself and have a template file that you can use to speed up moving through them.