RSS Feed

Calamity Jack

Module 10 – Graphic Novels/Censorship Issues/SLIS 5420


Hale, Shannon and Dean. (2010). Calamity Jack. (N. Hale, Illus.) New York: Bloomsbury USA.


Calamity Jack fancies himself to be something of a criminal mastermind, but one with the worst possible luck.  He lives in the “New World Territories” which are a cross between the land of fairytale, the Wild West, and the US or even London in the late 1800’s.  Jack is always trying to figure out a get rich quick scheme that generally involves things like climbing beanstalks to get the golden egg from the goose that lays them, working with his pixie friend Pru to try to scam people out of ice cream, expensive canes, flamingos – whatever.  He has a love interest named Rapunzel (Punzie for short) that he really wants to impress, and he wants to be able to help his Mamma, who has struggled with her bakery/cafe business since his dad died.  This adventurous tale is a bit reminiscent of the recent Sherlock Holmes feature movie as far as characters and scenes, and I couldn’t help but draw parallels between Jack and Sherlock and Punzie and Irene Adler.  Great fun – Calamity Jack is excellent storytelling at its best, with detailed, colorful illustrations that move the fast paced action along at rip-roaring speed.


“In this companion to Rapunzel’s Revenge, the swashbuckling plot shines in the graphic-novel format, with frequent wordless stretches showing adrenaline-fueled action sequences, while the panel arrangement, shifts in perspective, and sound effects drive the story forward as inexorably as a steam engine. This steampunk-flavored fairy tale will appeal to boy-, girl-, reluctant- and eager readers alike.”

Burkam, A.  (Fall 2010). Review of Calamity Jack. Horn Book. Retrieved from


Graphic novels are a favorite format of mine, and I can’t help but be encouraged by the amount of GN’s being written for young readers.  This format is great for encouraging reading as fun, and can be used in a library or school for an activity or individual reading time.  I like the idea of using Calamity Jack with traditional fairytales (such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, etc.) to contrast the stories and formats and talk about how fairtytales – where they come from, how long we’ve been reading them, etc. – and ask students why they think fairytales are so important.  It would be fun to have students create (in groups) a new story incorporating an old fairytale in the same way that Calamity Jack does.  It would also be fun to have each group draw and write one “scene” that blends new and old and then put them together in different orders to create stories as a group.

Included in:

ALA Great Graphic Novels for Teens – 2011

Childrens’ Books of the Year 2011  – Ages 9 to 12

Children’s Choices for 2011


About mary's summer bookshelf

I'm studying to be a librarian at the University of North Texas and loving it. This blog is a class project and the first one I've ever written. The world of children's literature is diverse and rich. This class is opening up many worlds for me to traverse - I am a total YA fan now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: