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Calamity Jack

Calamity Jack

4.5 6
by Dean Hale, Shannon Hale, Nathan Hale (Illustrator)

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Dave Burbank and Karen MacPherson
…Shannon and Dean Hale have concocted a story that will have readers on the edge of their seats. The beautifully drawn illustrations by Nathan Hale…add verve, detail and humor to the story.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Calamity Jack follows up Rapunzel's Revenge, the 2008 graphic novel that imagined the famous damsel in distress taking matters into her own hands. Children's author Shannon Hale and her husband, Dean, and illustrator Hall offer a charming update of Jack and Beanstalk, set in a world that combines elements of fairy tales, a Gilded Age American city, and the Wild West. Jack is a young huckster until one of his schemes leads him to stumble upon a dastardly plot by the evil giant who lives in a penthouse that towers above Shyport. Teaming again with Rapunzel, and a few other allies, Jack leads readers on adventure trekking through sewers and taking to the sky. The dynamic artwork fits well with Jack and Rapunzel's quick tongues, as they flirt their way through numerous hair-raising situations. Ages 10–up. (Jan.)
VOYA - Lisa Martincik
In the American city of Shyport, petty thief Jack considers himself a great criminal mastermind. When his mischief goes too far and makes his mother cry, he vows one last job: steal rent money from the thuggish giant Blunderboar in his floating castle. He succeeds in liberating a goose with golden eggs, but after killing a giant and crushing his neighborhood tenement with a huge beanstalk, he flees out for the Wild West. Hopes for a triumphant return with new best pal Rapunzel, last seen in Rapunzel's Revenge (Bloomsbury, 2008/VOYA October 2008) are dashed as they discover Blunderboar's protection racket has placed the entire town under his thumb. In the genre of revisionist fairytales, Jack's tales are among the most re-told; however, the Hales provide a truly refreshing and fun version of the rascal. This Jack has American Indian roots and is roguish without the cruel or arrogant undertones sometimes present in other stories. He is charming yet hapless enough to fit nicely into the love triangle formed with returning character Rapunzel and new compatriot Frederick Sparksmith the Third (outspoken newspaper magnate and inventor), and clever enough to save the day. Also, unlike in Rapunzel's single and well-defined traditional story, the Hales have more leeway here with Jack's beanstalk tale, keeping the giants and widowed mother but ditching the cow and adding a more flavorful background better in keeping with the setting. Nathan Hale (no relation) continues to draw in a clear and energetic style equally suited to the steampunk city as to the Wild West. Fans of the previous book will be happy to see this new installment, which should handily garner new fans as well. Reviewer: LisaMartincik
School Library Journal
Gr 4-9–The Hales follow up Rapunzel’s Revenge (Bloomsbury, 2008) with this fast-moving story focusing on Jack. It begins in the city of Shyport with his birth. Even as a child, Jack tends toward scheming, conning, and thievery with various accomplices, including Pru, a hat-fancying pixie. One scheme involving magical beans and the wealthy and corrupt giant Blunderboar goes awry, leaving Jack’s tenement and his mother’s bakery destroyed. Jack’s mother orders him to go, and go he does with a certain goose under his arm. After the events recounted in Rapunzel’s Revenge, Jack and Rapunzel head back to Shyport to set things right. They arrive to find that Jack’s mother is being held prisoner by Blunderboar, who is virtually running the city. They team up with Pru and Freddie Sparksmith, a young journalist, to save Jack’s mom and the day. Nathan Hale’s artwork again places the action in a fairy-tale version of the American West, now with the city as backdrop. His character sketches are delightfully expressive, and the book has the same rich palette as the previous story. It should satisfy readers who enjoy adventure, fairy tales, and anyone who loves a rogue. Some fans of Bill Willingham’s “Jack of Fables” series (Vertigo) may also enjoy this take on the “Jack” stories for a younger audience.–Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Kirkus Reviews
Jack (of Beanstalk fame) is back in this companion to Rapunzel's Revenge (2008). Moving away from the Wild West that Rapunzel called home, the Hales make readers privy to Jack's point of view, giving them a glimpse of his life back in the city. After a little mishap with a burgeoning bean, Jack must set things right in urban Shyport and rescue his mother from a menacing giant named Blunderboar. With braid-whipping Rapunzel at his side, he sets out to take care of this business, although he is fearful that she will learn about his previous life and his less-than-legal indiscretions. When another potential beau joins the mix, Jack must confront his past if he wants to include Rapunzel in his future. Populated with ant people, giants, pixies and even a Jabberwock, this fantastic yarn has something for everyone. Rapunzel's fans should not fear: This volume, though told from a male perspective, has all the pluck and verve of its predecessor. Readers will relish this gleeful mix of fairy tale, adventure and romance. (Graphic fiction. 9 & up)
Children's Literature - Michael Jung
In Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale's fractured fairy tale Rapunzel's Revenge, readers were treated to an Old West version of the Rapunzel story where Rapunzel becomes a Western heroine who uses her long braids as whips and lassos. Now in Calamity Jack, the Hales turn their attention to Rapunzel's sidekick Jack as they put their own spin on the Jack and the Beanstalk story. All the Western motifs remain as Jack, here a Native American small time thief, tries to help his mother by stealing a magic goose from crooked businessman giant Blunderboar. Unfortunately, when a magic bean makes the scheme go horribly wrong, Jack is forced to flee—and winds up meeting Rapunzel. Now hoping to right some old wrongs, Jack and Rapunzel return to his home city of Shyport, along with some golden eggs to settle his debts. But when Jack learns that the giants have taken over Shyport, he must use all of his cunning to uncover the giants' scheme and free his own home from their rule—if the giants do not grind his bones into flour first! A fantastic story that keeps the fun tone of Rapunzel's Revenge while also breaking new ground, Calamity Jack shows how good storytellers can pay homage to classic fairytales without being limited by familiar plots. While it is easy to see who Jack, Rapunzel, and Blunderboar are based on, each figure is also a unique character in their own right, with rich personal histories and motives that make them more than just imitations of their predecessors. As with Rapunzel's Revenge, the Hales leave the door open for another sequel, and many readers will hope they follow through. Reviewer: Michael Jung

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 10.76(h) x 0.47(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Shannon's mother says she was a storyteller from birth, jabbering endlessly in her carriage as the two strolled through the neighborhood; once she could form complete sentences, she made up stories, bribing her younger siblings to perform them in mini plays. When she was ten, she began writing books, mostly fantasy stories where she was the heroine, and she continued writing secretly for years while pursuing acting in stage and improv comedy. After detours studying in Mexico, the U. K., and Paraguay, Shannon earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Utah and a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. In the interim, she submitted short stories and novels to magazines and publishers, saving all her rejection letters which she has since laminated into one continuous 60-foot roll which she proudly unfurls to audiences as a testament to her dedication and determination.

Since the publication of her first book, The Goose Girl, in 2003, Shannon has become a beloved author to young readers as well as booksellers and educators. Her third novel, Princess Academy, earned her a Newbery Honor and is a The New York Times, Book Sense, and Publishers Weekly bestseller. Shannon has also written two books for adults, Austenland and The Actor and the Housewife. Shannon lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, Dean, their children, and their pet, a small plastic pig.


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Calamity Jack 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good comic book about a slightly insane and scheming guy named Jack. He meets his sidekick named Rapunzel with ridiculously long braids, and I THINK they go on a missin together. I read it a while ago, so I don't quite remember it. But I'm telling you, its an awesome book! From Gwendolyn
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Jack has long been a trickster - he's just not had the best of luck. When a heist involving magic beans, a beanstalk, and giants goes wrong, Jack leaves town. After his adventures with Rapunzel (in RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE), Jack returns home to Shyport only to discover that the giant, Blunderboar, is in charge, the city is in ruins thanks to an infestation of ant people, and his mother is being held captive and is in charge of baking bones into bread. It's up to Jack and Rapunzel to save the day! I'm often asked to give booktalks on great books for tweens and I always inlcude the Hale's first graphic novel outing, RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE (and now CALAMITY JACK!). These two books are a librarian's dream come true! The Hales combine witty dialogue, action and adventure, beautifully detailed artwork, and lots of humor to create the perfect graphic novel. I would give this one to anyone who is not convinced in the value of graphic novels or anyone who's a newbie to the style. (And of course old fans, too!) The fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk is given the steampunk treatment in CALAMITY JACK, and those looking for a great adventure read will devour this one. There's even a cute bit of romance thrown in, so I think this book will have wide appeal. It is a sequel to RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE, but readers don't necessarily have to read the first one to pick this one up. The book starts with Jack's past and gives us a little information on how Jack and Rapunzel met, so I doubt readers will feel lost. As I mentioned, the dialogue is very witty - there were a few lines I just had to read aloud to my husband because they were too great to keep to myself. The artwork is very detailed - young Jack is pictured with his tongue out while thinking and we get a glimpse that he hasn't lost this habit as an adult. It's this attention to detail that make the art stand out. The text and illustrations pair perfectly and work together, which makes this an excellent example of a graphic novel. (And be sure to check out the inside cover page for a peek at our authors and illustrator snuck into the artwork.) This is a book to share, to pass around to friends, and re-read, because each time you'll see something new. I'm hoping we can look forward to more graphic novels from this creative team - I'd love to see their take on other fairy tales.
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