8th out of 43 books — 7 voters
The Jack Tales
A collection of folk tales from the southern Appalachians that center on a single character, the irrepressible Jack.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 25th 2003 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
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
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.
Mar 21, 2009 JG (The Introverted Reader) rated it 5 of 5 stars · review of another edition
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.
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.
Feb 09, 2010 Violet rated it 3 of 5 stars · review of another edition
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!"
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?
So maybe he'll read it himself in 10 years?
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!!
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).
Aug 21, 2007 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars 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.