Review Blog

Jun 28 2010

Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale

cover image

Ill. by Nathan Hale. Bloomsbury, 2010. ISBN 978 0 7475 8742 2
(Ages 10+) Highly recommended. Steampunk meets Jack and the beanstalk, with Rapunzel thrown in for good measure, making this graphic novel a cut above the rest. Jack, a Native American, leaves home in disgrace after he buys some beans with his mother's remaining money and then cuts down the stalk with disastrous results. Her bakery is in ruins and she is taken in by the giant, Blunderboar. Fleeing to the west, Jack meets Rapunzel, who seeing his courage and determination, returns to New York with him to make amends. Here they discover that Blunderboar is in league with a colony of Ant People, and they are destroying the city. They befriend Sparksmith who is defending his newspaper against the onslaught and together the three save the day.
Told in its bare bones, the humour of the story does not come to light, but the story is very funny, nodding to many old stories and tales as it goes along. A whiff of romance between Sparksmith and Rapunzel is enough for Jack to realise how much he cares for the girl. The graphic novel format suits this story beautifully and the full coloured illustrations are wonderful to look at, seeking out the array of things drawn in each frame. The city of New York is spectacular, and the steampunk element inventive and practical. As someone who was addicted to comics when a kid, these are a delight to read. Full of fun and adventure, Calamity Jack, with his nose for getting into trouble will appeal to all ages.
Fran Knight

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