________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 19. . . .January 18, 2013


Jack and Mary in the Land of Thieves.

Andy Jones. Illustrated by Darka Erdelji.
St. John’s, NL: Running the Goat Books & Broadsides (Distributed by LitDist Co.), 2012.
52 pp., trade pbk. & hc., $18.95 (pbk.), $27.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-986611377 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-986611384X (hc.).

Preschool and up / Ages 4 and up.

Review by Alison Mews.

**** /4



And Mary and Jack had a whole yaffle of youngsters. I think they had thirteen by the time I left, and Baxter babysat the whole batch and they could croon before they could cry, those youngsters. And Mary carried on as a captain and she sails the seven seas to this very day.

Sometimes Jack goes along as her first mate but mostly he stays home tendin to the youngsters and the famous giant peas. And I got to tell you, Baxter now conducts a number of choirs which have helped to entice his neighbours away from thievery and into the wonderful world of choral singing! And the Land of Thieves has become known as ”Newfoundland” - you may have heard of it.


Award-winning collaborators Andy Jones and Darka Erdelji have delivered another delightful Newfoundland folktale. Loosely based on “Jack and the Slave Islands” from the Northern Peninsula, this Jack tale finds our unlikely hero in a happier-ever-after situation at the outset, married to the woman of his dreams and successful beyond all expectations. Unfortunately, this very success draws the attention of a sly sea captain who tricks Jack into betting his fortune and losing it. Jack is sent to the Slave Islands, and Mary is turned out onto the street. But Mary is undaunted and shrewdly sets out to recover both Jack and their fortune. Before long, she is Captain of her own sailing vessel and, disguised as a man, she bests the bully and rescues her contrite husband.

internal art     There are, of course, many twists and turns in the story and many embellishments, such as the unusual singing Mynah bird named Baxter who plays a pivotal role. Jones has drawn on other classic works for inspiration, including Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and the medieval tale of Frederick of Jennen, and Baxter’s songs are based on Jones’ knowledge of traditional music.

     Darka Erdelji’s imaginative folk illustrations enhance and enrich the story. She has great fun creating small images of birds playing, making origami (instructions included) and generally cavorting around the pages. Her whimsical style includes many motifs from Newfoundland culture, and her swirling blues and greens evoke the marine setting.

     It is a great pleasure to listen to Andy Jones tell a story, and, happily, his printed stories fill you with the same hushed anticipation from the first sentence. To read this book aloud is to become a storyteller. And for intrepid adults who would like to sing Baxter’s songs rather than read the lyrics, the scores for the melodies, thanks to the help of well-known folk-singer Pamela Morgan, are included at the end of the book.

     A worthy follow-up to the acclaimed Jack and the Manger, which won the NL children’s literature award, and The Queen of Paradise’s Garden, this book is lovingly prepared by the same creative team that also includes designer Veselina Tomova and Running the Goat, Books and Broadsides.

Highly Recommended.

Alison Mews is a retired librarian who lives in St. John’s, NL

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.