Little Eight John

Overview

Little Eight JohnÆs mother warns him that mischiefùlike sitting backwards in his chair and kicking frogsùmeans bad luck for the family. But what his mother warns him not to do, he does, and when the baby gets sick and the potatoes donÆt grow, Little Eight John just laughs. Then, one day, trouble comes looking for him. The mischievous character and the superstitious lore make a winning combination, and Wahl tells this taleàin vivid storytelling style. ùBooklist

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Overview

Little Eight JohnÆs mother warns him that mischiefùlike sitting backwards in his chair and kicking frogsùmeans bad luck for the family. But what his mother warns him not to do, he does, and when the baby gets sick and the potatoes donÆt grow, Little Eight John just laughs. Then, one day, trouble comes looking for him. The mischievous character and the superstitious lore make a winning combination, and Wahl tells this taleàin vivid storytelling style. ùBooklist

Little Eight John, as mean as mean there was, persists in disobeying his mother until he finds his mischief backfiring on him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An encounter with a specter changes a naughty boy's ways. "Clay's loosely rendered images of a rural African American household... places Little Eight John's expressive face in the sharpest focus, ensuring that the reader's attention will remain focused, too," said PW. Ages 3-8. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-- Wahl and Clay take readers to what appears to be Depression-era, rural North Carolina, to relate the story of Little Eight John, a boy who ``. . . was as mean as mean there was.'' He consistently disobeys his mother's admonitions by kicking toad-frogs, sitting backwards in a chair, climbing trees in his best clothes, etc. With each mischievous act, he brings sickness and bad luck to his family. Finally, Old Raw Head Bloody Bones, embodied in steam from the kettle on the stove, turns him into a spot of jam on the kitchen table. Just as his mother is about to wipe it up, the boy wakes up and calls out to her to stop. In another well-known version of this story found in Virginia Hamilton's The People Could Fly (Knopf, 1985), Little Eight John meets a worse fate by being turned into a grease spot and literally rubbed out of existence by his mother. In Wahl's version, the child repents of his evil ways. While the story is written in the vernacular of its regional setting and is perfect for telling aloud, it is very didactic. As he did in Tailypo! (Holt, 1991), Clay has effectively used acrylics to create artwork that is glowing and realistic with hints of impressionism. His illustrations are notable for his characters' expressive faces. The use of inset pictures, various perspectives and point of view, as well as interesting visual effects, are unusual and an excellent extension of the text. Librarians searching for additional African-American folklore in picture-book format or for folklore from North Carolina should consider this book. --Andrew W. Hunter, Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg, Charlotte, NC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525673675
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.32 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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