cover image Lazy Jack

Lazy Jack

Vivian French. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-130-4

Traditionally, the tale of Lazy Jack includes a vituperative mother who calls Jack ``stupid'' and similar endearments each time he squanders his wages. But this comic retelling is sympathetic to both Jack and his mom, here comfortably rotund and clad in apron and fuzzy pink slippers. When Jack loses the coin he has earned working for a builder, his mother says mildly, ``Oh, Jack.... You are a silly boy. You should have put it in your pocket.'' The next day, after working for a farmer, he obediently pours his earnings--a jug of milk--into his pocket. Each subsequent workday yields increasingly ludicrous mishaps. French (Caterpillar Caterpillar) nicely tweaks the traditional ending to show redemption on Jack's part without losing the comedic tone. The characters, rendered in muted watercolors and ink and shown both full-scale and in panels, are squat and bulbous-nosed, reminiscent of the figures in Andy Capp.With such good humor permeating both text and art, this tale suddenly seems worth retelling. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)