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The Jack Tales

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  166 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A collection of folk tales from the southern Appalachians that center on a single character, the irrepressible Jack.
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 9th 1943 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1943)
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During my last 30 years as an elderhostel instructor, this book has been a primary resource. Chase 'collected' most of his stories directly from mountain folks, and he completed this collection at a very significant time. The oral tradition was fading, primarily because no one told stories to the family after the advent of TV. Consequently, when Chase began his collection of old traditional Jack tales, the stories were already fading from the memories of Applachia's elderly. In many instances, C ...more
Mary Catelli
A collection of folktales from North Carolina and Virginia, all featuring a hero named Jack.

Not all of them are consistent with each other, one narrator even commenting on the marriage problem, but they are also not independent of each other -- Jack, for instance, often has two brother named Will and Tom.

But Jack doesn't just climb the beanstalk. He also deals with robbers -- is oppressed by his employer and helped by a magical bull -- stays all night in a mill and sternly forbids a cat to sop i
Namedoris Powell
I had never read THE JACK TALES even though I am a former children's librarian. When Tony Earley referred to them in his latest book of short stories, I was determined to read them. I enjoyed them. Some were familiar, others not. And even though there was a lot of violence and killing in them, many times in the stories Jack helped those in need and was rewarded for it. Jack was a very likable character and a very smart one, if not tricky. Since I have just seen IN THE WOODS, a movie based on fai ...more
This is a topic that I love and look into from time to time. These are so different than the tales of chivalry and knitehood. Jack, the rascally character, gains his endeavors by trickery, cheating, luck, or whatever works. He is not highly born but a poor mountain lad who faces giants, devils, and cruelty. There is no code for his behavior, just survival. I love this oral tradition in literature, and though these tales were compiled in the early part of the twentieth century, their preservation ...more
Brittany Morgan
I bought this for my Children's Literature class and honestly, it was way more brutal than I imagined. A lot of dishonesty and not something I would my children to read if I had them or something I'd want to share with my students. The only reason I gave it a two instead of a one is because the author put a lot of work into it, collecting folklore all over the country and did do a good job of it, but morally and graphically not anything I would want children to be around.
Adam Rabiner
I first read this book in 1982 as a sophomore in high school taking a folklore and mythology course at Harvard Summer School. Back then, while enjoyable, it was an academic affair, leading to papers and comp lit. What a difference from my recent out loud readings to my six year old son. Speaking the words in the Appalachian dialect which Chase captures, I couldn't help having a southern drawl. Jack remains the quintessential Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn: clever, mischievous, cunning, successful and n ...more
John Bemis
Bizarre, violent, and completely hilarious. As a kid, I checked this book out over and over from the library. (I own a tattered copy now.) I was constantly pulled back by Jack's unfaltering sense of self and his ability to never get fazed - whether he's facing a three-headed man-eating giant wandering the Appalachian backwoods or whether he's given some strange, impossible task by a hillbilly king. A world far more rich and interesting than 99% of the fantasy books out there.
These stories take me back to sitting around the fire in the back yard, eating roasted marshmallows, or sitting on the front porch swing with the family after a big meal of garden foods and listening to these stories of Jack....told to us, not out of a book, but as a story....just like Jack was a long, lost cousin..... It's really fun to read this stuff and to remember that I actually heard some of these stories from my family growing up! Awesome!!
JG (The Introverted Reader)
You know Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk? He got up to much more than just giant-killing. If I remember correctly, Richard Chase traveled around the southern Appalachians collecting all the Jack stories that had been passed down in the oral tradition for generations and this is the result. They probably get kind of predictable, but we used to fight over who got to check this out of our school library. This book was a lot of fun.
Delightful. Three of the stories, "Jack and the Bull," "Jack and King Marock" (my favorite, I think - Jack gambles with a 'roguish kind of feller' who may be the Devil) and "Soldier Jack" (Ray Hicks memorably tells this tale in the Scots-Irish episode of Story of English) were recorded in Wise County, Virginia, whence hail my father's folks. Chewy, tasty language (insert cornpone metaphor here).
Hayley Smith-Kirkham
I started reading a few of these stories at night before bed to replace my terrible Netflix routine and it's started a good habit. I'd been reading some Grimm's fairy tales prior and I enjoyed finding some of the same tropes in the Jack tales (the looking glass to see Death, the group of men each with some talent who outwit the King, etc).
What fun! I think we got most of the way through this before it was due back at the library. My husband who grew up in North Carolina read these to me and I do love how unfazed Jack is by pretty much everything. Just takes care of what needs to be done. I was surprised at how many tales had familiar parts from the spinoffs I had heard.

I've tried to read this collection of stories about a young man named Jack, but because the setting for all the stories take place during what I guess is the eighteenth centuryy in the Appalachian Mountain region, the English is hard to follow. Also like what my English teacher says,"life's too short to read books you don't enjoy!"
Aug 21, 2007 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Appalachian studies readers; folklore readers
The Jack Tales are English folktales that were brought to Appalachia. Unfortunately Richard Chase was a sort of J. Frank Dobie figure, not recording the tales faithfully but trying to make them "literary" instead. Despite this romantic regionalism, he does give us some very well-told folktales.
This is a Christmas gift for Jack, but after reading a couple of the stories, I'm not sure Jack's mom will enjoy reading the fables aloud to him considering the heavy southern accent the narration uses.

So maybe he'll read it himself in 10 years?
This book has helped shape my world view. I've been reading it since I was a little Aaron, going to summer camp. Seriously, bring over a couple beers and I'll read you the whole thing, all the stories, complete with voices.
Rick Davis
Great fun. They remind me of granddad's stories.
Full review here:
June Morgan
These tales are old, but they make for wonderful read alouds and introducing dialect.
This collection shows the evolution of mythology from one culture to another.
An excellent retelling of folktales from the southern Appalachians.
Heather Greenlee
Jan 22, 2008 Heather Greenlee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Amy Knutson
These are great stories, written in the Appalachian dialect.
These are a favorite to be read aroud the campfire.
My children will know these. <3
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