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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Jack Plank Tells Tales by Natalie Babbitt

Jack Plank Tells All
No, Jack does not walk the plank. Jack is left on a Caribbean island in the 1720's. The pirate ship won't support a pirate that is inept at plundering. The pirates give him a small amount coins to support himself for a short while. Mrs. DelFresno cautiously allows him to stay at her boardinghouse. Her daughter, Nina, gives him a different suggestion for employment every day. On the first day, he couldn't be a farmer. To get to the field requires going over a bridge. Jack will have nothing to do with bridges. His cousin, Lugger had been thrown over a bridge because he couldn't pay the toll of a gold coin to a troll. The following days at dinnertime, he gives thorough explanations as to why he can't be a baker, fortune teller, fisherman, barber, goldsmith, actor or a musician. It is Nina who finally finds the right job for Jack

This book is full of surprises. You might expect this book to be for only children ages eight through eleven. This book is a classic read aloud for both families and classrooms. The older children can enjoy conjuring up their own chapters. They might also be interested in doing research and find the origins of these folk tales. Be prepared for yet another surprise when you see the sketches and discover who drew them. An unexpected surprise is that a pirate book would entrall both genders. A female is the heroine of the story. The owner of the boarding house who holds Jack accountable is a female. Even the author is female.

This is Natalie Babbitt's fifteenth book. Surprisingly, it has been twenty-five years since her last novel. The dedication page indicates a clue as to why she finally wrote again. Babbitt must want creativity for her granddaughter. Let the storytelling begin.

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