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Sonderbooks Book Review of

Calamity Jack

by Shannon and Dean Hale

illustrations by Nathan Hale


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Calamity Jack

by Shannon and Dean Hale
illustrations by Nathan Hale

Reviewed June 8, 2010.
Bloomsbury, New York, 2010. 144 pages.

Here's a companion graphic novel to Rapunzel's Revenge, which was also written by Shannon Hale and her husband Dean and illustrated by Nathan Hale, who, interestingly enough, is no relation to the other Hales.

In Rapunzel's Revenge, the creators took the story of Rapunzel as sort of a framework for a melodrama set in some sort of version of the Wild West, only with magic and a witch-like tyrant and strange creatures. In Rapunzel's adventures, she met up with a con-artist named Jack who carried around a goose that laid golden eggs.

You don't really need to read Rapunzel's Revenge first to enjoy Calamity Jack. In it, Jack is bringing Rapunzel to the big city where he grew up. In Rapunzel's Revenge, they rescued Rapunzel's mother from a tyrant terrorizing the whole area. In Calamity Jack their plan is to rescue Jack's mother from a tyrant terrorizing the whole area.

We also learn about Jack's background. Not surprisingly, it involves a beanstalk and a giant. Though like Rapunzel's Revenge, the fairy tale framework is simply a jumping-off point.

The story is wild, over-the-top, not exactly believable, and melodramatic -- but a whole lot of fun. This is a graphic novel adventure yarn with a touch of romance and lots of teamwork, as Jack acquires a rival who's also interested in Rapunzel. She's still wielding her braids as a lasso, but it also takes Jack's schemes to defeat the giants and save the town.