________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 4. . . .September 18, 2009


Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang.

Mordecai Richler. Illustrated by Dušan Petriši'c.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 1975/2009.
87 pp., hardcover, $12.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-925-2.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Todd Kyle.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.



Standing inside the gates of the children’s prison, Jacob Two-Two stared up into the menacing face of the warden – the dreaded Hooded Fang.

“Remove this prisoner to the lowest, dampest dungeon,” growled The Hooded Fang. “And put him on a diet of stale bread and water.”

Jacob, who is two plus two plus two years old, feels left out of all of his older siblings’ activities, not to mention his being ignored by adults. After being humiliated by a grocer while running an errand, Jacob dreams that he is arrested for mocking the grocer and sent to the horrific Children’s Prison led by the frightening Hooded Fang. His only hope is to be rescued by Child Power – his brother and sister – by enlisting the help of the demoralized inmates. The rescue almost fails until Jacob is able to prove that the Hooded Fang is really a child at heart himself.

     This is a reissue of Richler’s now classic 1975 tale which has spawned two sequels and a TV series, not to mention a third sequel soon to be written by the talented Cary Fagan. It features new illustrations by Dušan Petriši'c which thankfully avoid trying to “update” the book’s image and instead concentrate on classic depictions of a monster and a frightened, but not quite helpless, child.

     In many ways, this book is a fable for adults, not children, for it skewers with precision all of the minor “crimes” about which we adults tend to lecture kids. For some readers, the prison is frightening, not the least for its Holocaust echoes. It could also be argued that in 2009 there aren’t any stuck-up adults who don’t care a hoot about kids’ freedom. But the fun of this book, and its sly message, have not gone away. Children will still cheer on Jacob and Child Power just as much as adults will yearn for Jacob’s escape from tyranny; kids will identify with a kid’s right to be a kid as much as adults will recognize their own tendency to sweat the incredibly small stuff. This adult sure did.

Highly Recommended.

Todd Kyle, a former President of the Canadian Association of Children’s Librarians, is currently a library branch manager in Mississauga, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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