________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 19. . . .January 27, 2017


Jack and the Magnificent Ugly Stick.

Josh Goudie. Art by Craig Goudie.
St. John’s, NL: Tuckamore Books/Creative, 2016.
32 pp., pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-77103-090-8.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Teresa Iaizzo.

***1/2 /4



Jack held the stick. Now it looked even stranger. “How do I make music with this?”

“Just hold tight, bang the boot on the ground, flick the can with your finger and give the bottle caps a shake,” said Andrew.


“There you go!” said Andrew. “Don’t stop now!”

So Jack kept going.


Jack and the Magnificent Ugly Stick is an advanced picture book that revolves around a community’s love of music. It begins with a little boy, Jack, who so desperately wants to go on a fishing trip with his beloved grandmother, but a problem arises when she cannot locate her missing boot. Unable to go on their trip, Jack decides to locate the missing boot himself.

     Jack embarks on his adventure, only to find his friend Matthew who tells him all about the ugly stick, which is a musical instrument that makes people dance. Jack decides that, since his grandmother loves dancing more than fishing, he’ll make her an ugly stick instead. So Jack, along with Matthew’s help, begins his quest to make his grandmother happy.

     Along the way, Jack meets other neighbours and friends who decide to help him make his ugly stick. They each provide something to add to its design, and, to Jack’s delight, they all play musical instruments as well. In the end, Jack and his friends form a band that marches to his grandmother’s house to lift her spirits.

     Jack and the Magnificent Ugly Stick is an enchanting take on a much-loved subject. Joshua Goudie’s simple, yet lyrical, prose really heightens readers’ experience as they can literally hear the ugly stick at work. I particularly enjoyed Goudie’s use of phonetic sounds to intensify the reading experience. But the star of this advanced picture book is Craig Goudie’s illustrations. His larger-than-life depictions of small town life transport the reader to the East coast. Moreover, his use of warm, yet vibrant, colours allows the illustrations to literally pop off the page, immersing readers in a delectable experience.

     Ultimately, what I enjoyed above all else is the author’s note at the end of Jack and the Magnificent Ugly Stick that explains the origins of the ugly stick in Newfoundland and Labrador’s music scene, and how to make one yourself. This will be useful to parents and teachers alike who wish to take these teaching points further. In the end, I highly recommend Jack and the Magnificent Ugly Stick to music lovers around the world.

Highly Recommended.

Teresa Iaizzo is a Senior Library Assistant with the Toronto Public Library.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

Next Review | Table of Contents For This Issue - January 27, 2017
CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive