The Hangashore

Overview

Trouble begins in a small Newfoundland fishing outport when a new magistrate arrives from England. A pompous and arrogant man, he expects deference without doing anything to earn it. The magistrate’s attitude is contrasted sharply with that of John, a young man with Downs Syndrome, who measures people by their behaviour, not reputation. It takes a near tragedy at sea to show the magistrate who holds the better set of values.
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Overview

Trouble begins in a small Newfoundland fishing outport when a new magistrate arrives from England. A pompous and arrogant man, he expects deference without doing anything to earn it. The magistrate’s attitude is contrasted sharply with that of John, a young man with Downs Syndrome, who measures people by their behaviour, not reputation. It takes a near tragedy at sea to show the magistrate who holds the better set of values.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
This challenging book is about an encounter between a mentally handicapped young man and the town magistrate, and is set in a small, coastal village in Newfoundland shortly after World War II. The magistrate is newly arrived from England with an attitude that is less than obliging to the townfolk. John, the young man, knows no strangers, and often expresses what others only dare to think. When the magistrate acts uppity with townfolk, John, good naturedly, sets him in his place. The magistrate reacts by calling John a hangashore, a cultural name for a "good-for-nuthin'". Accompanied by primitive-like illustrations of Newfoundland coastal life, the story follows John's reaction to the magistrate's name-calling, and the surprising, but heart-warming conclusion to the tale. The use of colloquialisms and old fashioned power structures will require some explanation for young readers. In fact, the author's style of jumping from one scenario to another may require a first reading by an adult to clarify the story. It is an interesting look at another time and place.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8--This lengthy picture book is set in a small fishing village in Newfoundland at the end of World War II. Magistrate Mercer arrives from England intending to "improve" the behavior of "colonials" by setting an example of reserved behavior and strictly following social protocol. The people respect him but don't embrace him. When he refuses to give up his front-row pew to accommodate a service honoring local soldiers, he angers many townspeople but they remain silent. Only the minister's 16-year-old son, recognized as being "slow or not right in the head," has the courage to challenge him, calling him a "hangashore"--a local term for "a pitiful person." This so angers the magistrate that he threatens to institutionalize John for being a "half-wit." But when the magistrate's life is threatened in a fishing accident and it is John who saves him, the man changes his mind about the boy, and about his own role in the community. The full-page oil paintings give readers a good sense of the island's landscape, the muted outdoor colors contrasting with the vivid reds inside the church. The portraits of the magistrate and John effectively deepen the characterizations provided by the text. The story has appeal for those who might be interested in Newfoundland.--Virginia Golodetz, Children's Literature New England, Burlington, VT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887764448
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 9/1/1998
  • Edition description: Set in Newfoundland
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,468,555
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoff Butler grew up in Newfoundland as his minister father travelled the province. He is one of the best known artists in the Atlantic provinces. His work depicts his respect for the hard lives of the people who live there, and for the beauty of his native home.
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