CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 13 . . . .March 3, 2006
Thus begins Darcia LaBrosse’s latest creation, One Yak Called Jack, a snappy counting picture book told in snippets of rhyme, suited to a very young audience. Poor Jack is looking for friends to go to the fair with him, but all the other animals are busy: the crabs are building a sand castle, the ferrets are eating dinner, and the seals are snoozing. Just when he’s ready to give up, his friends finish their tasks, and they all want to go with him, which means he has to carry them all on his back. The comical concluding illustrations, with Jack carrying a multitude of animals on his back, is, in my mind, the best part of the book. The silly scene entices you to spot and count all the sets of animals.
However there seems to be no logic to LaBrosse’s choice of animals, nor any logic as to the setting. Where is Jack living that he can get to the ice burgs, where the seals are sleeping, to the jungle, where the monkeys are scratching, to the beach where the crabs are building, all in a single day? They are not zoo animals, nor are they all farm animals. This lack of cemented setting and lack of connection of animals throws a reader like me off but probably would not be noticed by a young children. Instead, it may engage children with a variety of creatures and settings.
Although the story here is neither clever, nor terribly original, the illustrations are wonderful. In 1987, LaBrosse won the Governor General’s Literary Award for illustration for the book Venir Au Monde. Her talent is apparent. The combination of gentle colors and thick outlines creates cheerful, simple animals that are full of cartoonish vitality.
All in all, One Yak Called Jack is a worthwhile purchase and a probable kid pleaser.
Kallie George is currently taking her Masters of Children’s Literature at the University of British Colombia.
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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.