Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale

Calamity Jack--Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Nathan Hale
January 2010 by Bloomsbury USA Children's
144 pages--Goodreads

Jack likes to think of himself as a criminal mastermind…with an unfortunate amount of bad luck. A schemer, plotter, planner, trickster, swindler...maybe even thief? One fine day Jack picks a target a little more giant than the usual, and one little bean turns into a great big building-destroying beanstalk.

With help from Rapunzel (and her trusty braids), a pixie from Jack’s past, and a man with inventions from the future, they just might out-swindle the evil giants and put his beloved city back in the hands of good people ....while catapulting themselves and readers into another fantastical adventure.

I really enjoyed Rapunzel's Revenge.  While Calamity Jack isn't as great, it is still a lot of fun.  This is Jack's story and it's not a western, so there's a lot less of Rapunzel's spunky attitude and hair lassoing.  The steampunk aspect is neat, but the western vibe fit so well to the first book.  That perfect-fit feeling is missing in this book.  More lassoing may not fix that problem, but it would make me feel better. 

There is a cast of quirky characters, as always.  But in this book, Jack's character doesn't really go anywhere. Instead of going from lovable scoundrel to honest lovable scoundrel, he spends most of the book worrying about what will happen if Rapunzel finds out he was once a crook.  Rapunzel doesn't do much either.  I loved her no nonsense. round-up-the-bad-guys attitude in the first book, but in this, she's just a side character. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that more hair lassoing would improve this book, even though it's supposed to be Jack's story.

The illustrations are as detailed and interesting as the first book.  The jabberwocky and bandersnatch are nice touches.  Calamity Jack is a fun, quick followup to Hale's first graphic novel.

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