Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale

Calamity Jack is a graphic adventure novel based rather loosely on the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.  As a Shannon Hale fan, I was predisposed to enjoy this story.  I loved Nathan Hale‘s illustrations and the vibrant colours of the work.  I must admit I was a bit thrown by Jack’s First Nation’s heritage.  I’m a bit cautious about deliberate use of North American ancestry in works which are not by First Nation’s people.  I wonder if it is stereotype or if it is a promising way to include a minority in a mainstream tale.  I couldn’t decide in this one.  The characters speak in an American English dialect using old-fashioned vocabulary.  As a result the book would be a bit of a challenging read for some.  Enough of the story is carried through the pictures so it is quite possible the unusual vocabulary wouldn’t hinder comprehension.  As always in Shannon Hale work, the women are strong and determined people at the center of plot development.  I appreciate this aspect of her work as fairy tales can be so chauvinistic.  Calamity Jack is an interesting blend of action comic and fairy tale.  Certainly worth considering as an addition to the K-8 library.

Rating #1 (Highly Recommended) ✓#2 #3 #4 (Not acceptable)

Interest Level: grades 4+  Reading Level:  6+

Curriculum Area: Language Arts

Themes/Topics: fairy tale, adventure

This book would be suitable for ✓ Lit Circles ✓ Kit Materials

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Filed under children's lit, library, reading

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