True Story of Trapper Jack's Left Big Toe

True Story of Trapper Jack's Left Big Toe

by Ian Wallace
     
 

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Trapper Jack has only nine toes. The tenth, according to Josh's new friend, Gabe, is safe inside an empty tobacco tin behind the bar at the Sourdough Saloon. This rollicking tall tale, set in the Yukon, sends two boys and a three-legged dog on an astonishing adventure.

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Overview

Trapper Jack has only nine toes. The tenth, according to Josh's new friend, Gabe, is safe inside an empty tobacco tin behind the bar at the Sourdough Saloon. This rollicking tall tale, set in the Yukon, sends two boys and a three-legged dog on an astonishing adventure.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A wry and absorbing initiation story set in Canada's wild north, Wallace's (Boy of the Deeps) retelling of a famous Yukon legend doesn't shrink from straight talk about frostbite. When Josh moves to the snowy town of Dawson, his new friend Gabe tells him that a local trapper's amputated toe, lost to the cold, sits in a tobacco tin in the Sourdough Saloon. The boys spend the first part of the story figuring out how to get a look at the grisly object. They then beard the trapper himself, who tells them about the day he and his sled dogs fell through the ice ("Two o' my dogs 'n one o' my toes din't make it home"). After the pair assures the man that they're "bellies aren't soft and yellow," he invites them to the saloon. Until the last moment, it looks as if the tale might be a tall one, but the relic does indeed reside in the tobacco tin, and the boys actually see it before it's nabbed by a dog. A graphic description and accompanying drawing may catch readers off-guard here. Back at his cabin, Trapper Joe turns out to be a rewarding companion despite his gruff exterior, and the boys, their rite of passage over, can laugh about it with him. Wallace's realistic colored-pencil spreads, done on heavily textured paper, have a bleached-out quality that simultaneously conveys the crisp white light of the northern winter and dilutes the impact of the images for the soft- and yellow-bellied, that may be a good idea. Ages 6-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Talk about tall tales! You just might believe it if you heard that Trapper Jack had only nine toes. But what if you were told that his "missing" toe was stored in a jar right here in town, in Dawson City, at the Sourdough Saloon? Josh has just moved to the Yukon, and he knows that the area gets very cold�yes, cold enough to freeze your toes off�but to keep the toe? In a jar? His new friend, Gabe, swears that it's a true story. After all, Gabe's mother saw it once. Gabe takes Josh to Trapper Jack's cabin, where they hear the whole story. The toe is in a can (not a jar) at the Sourdough Saloon, and if the boys are sure they won't chicken out, Trapper Jack will show it to them! When the toe is in Trapper Jack's hand and the boys are staring open-mouthed at it, a stray dog and a flock of ravens get involved, and mild chaos follows. It's a totally unbelievable story, told in so wonderfully straight-faced a manner that it becomes totally believable. The trick at the end, which is best unrevealed in a review, just adds to the story's fun. 2002, Roaring Brook Press,
— Judy Silverman <%ISBN%>0761314938
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Josh's new friend, Gabe, tells him what sounds like a Yukon tall tale and the boys attempt to find out the truth behind Trapper Jack's amputated toe. Lost to frostbite, the "black and withered" appendage is kept in a tobacco tin at the Sourdough Saloon. When the youngsters convince Trapper Jack to let them see the real thing, a stray, three-legged dog runs away with the odd treasure. The boys are left with one last surprise when the wily old man reveals that he indeed still has a total of 10 toes and proudly displays 6 toes on his right foot. An author's note explains that the toe is real and that "if your mom and dad are really brave," they can go to the famous saloon and order a drink with the actual toe placed in it. "The Sourdough's Sourtoe Cocktail Club is made up of an elite group of hardy souls whose lips have `kissed' the famous amputated toe." Textured watercolor illustrations capture the spirit of a bleak northern town, but the characters' faces are sometimes stiff. The brief view of the toe at the edge of the page is startlingly graphic; and the moment when Trapper Jack shows his six toes seems confusing. It appears to be a left foot on his right leg. This attempt at real-life "believe it or not" humor falls flat and the story never rises beyond the grossly weird level. Tiptoe around this one; it's a tall tale gone awry.-Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
When Josh learns from his best friend that Trapper John's big toe is in a tobacco tin behind the Sourdough Saloon counter, he's skeptical. But when Trapper John opens the tobacco tin to prove it, a wild critter snags the blackish bony bit before Josh can satisfy his curiosity. Running through a town in the Yukon Territory, Josh, his companions, and his surroundings are realistically and almost timelessly drawn in subdued colored pencil. Unfortunately, the white text often disappears into the background art, making the story hard to read. If it were not for "Mack the Knife" playing on a jukebox and a service station with gas pumps, it would be hard to know that the rough and rugged time period has to be set sometime between the 1950s to the present day. Though a tall tale is expected, the well-modulated, matter-of-fact tone expands the believability quotient and the illustrations' realism. Adding to the mystery, Wallace says such a saloon exists and is run by Jake, who will slide the dead-black toe into a beverage for any brave grownup to kiss through the liquid. The reward-a certificate of accomplishment. (In fact, an Internet search will produce the address of this Klondike-era landmark.) A great story, so well paced even the author's note brings the fluid text to a smooth and satisfying end. (Picture book. 6-10)
From the Publisher
Bulletin, Center for Children's Books

Tall-tale collections often beg for fresh titles. . . and errant body parts have their literary following; kids who got a giggle from DeFelice’s Cold Feet could take a peek.

Publishers Weekly

A wry and absorbing initiation story set in Canada's wild north, Wallace's retelling of a famous Yukon legend doesn't shrink from straight talk about frostbite. When Josh moves to the snowy town of Dawson, his new friend Gabe tells him that a local trapper's amputated toe, lost to the cold, sits in a tobacco tin in the Sourdough Saloon. The boys spend the first part of the story figuring out how to get a look at the grisly object. They then beard the trapper himself, who tells them about the day he and his sled dogs fell through the ice ("Two o' my dogs 'n one o' my toes din't make it home"). After the pair assures the man that they're "bellies aren't soft and yellow," he invites them to the saloon. Until the last moment, it looks as if the tale might be a tall one, but the relic does indeed reside in the tobacco tin, and the boys actually see it before it's nabbed by a dog. A graphic description and accompanying drawing may catch readers off-guard here. Back at his cabin, Trapper Joe turns out to be a rewarding companion despite his gruff exterior, and the boys, their rite of passage over, can laugh about it with him. Wallace's realistic colored-pencil spreads, done on heavily textured paper, have a bleached-out quality that simultaneously conveys the crisp white light of the northern winter and dilutes the impact of the images for the soft- and yellow-bellied, that may be a good idea.

Kirkus Reviews

Running through a town in the Yukon Territory, Josh, his companions, and his surroundings are realistically and almost timelessly drawn in subdued color pencil. . . . A great story, so well paced even the author’s note brings the fluid text to a smooth and satisfying end.

Booklist

Outrageous? Absolutely, and Wallace adds to the fun with nicely rendered, superrealistic illustrations. The highly detailed pictures can be seen well from a distance, which will make this lively read a great choice for group read alouds, including audiences of older children.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780888994158
Publisher:
Groundwood Books
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 13.00(h) x (d)

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