Reviews for Story of the Jack O'lantern

Booklist Reviews 2010 September #1
"Through this tale about a nasty man named Jack, Tegen presents a vivid version of the origins of the current-day custom of placing carved, lighted pumpkins out at Halloween. The brief text tells how Jack makes a pact with a man believed to be the devil, escapes paying his due by catching a flaming coal tossed at him in a carved pumpkin, and is then condemned to eternally wandering the earth. (A short afterword explains that the story comes from Irish folktales.) Lavish, carefully composed, full-page illustrations with the look of oil paintings clearly depict the actions of the despicable characters against pleasingly detailed backgrounds with plenty of mouthwatering fruits and vegetables on hand. With Jack skulking around, the effect is a little creepy, but overall, with the smiling pumpkins, it is only slightly scary. Well suited for use in a pumpkin-decorating program--or any Halloween program. Pair with tales such as Very Scary, by Tony Johnston (1995)." Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Drawing from several Irish folktales, Tegen tells the story of how the jack-o'-lantern came to be. A stingy and thieving man named Jack gets his comeuppance when he makes a dodgy deal with the devil. Rich-hued, detailed illustrations complement the spooky tale. Additional details about the history of the jack-o'-lantern conclude the book. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 July #1
"There once was a man named Jack who was stingy and mean." When he meets a sinister, "too friendly" man, the miser is happy to accept a free dinner, promising to pay his debt on the day he dies. Years later, on Halloween, he steals a couple pumpkins with an eye toward soup. Predictably, his creditor shows up just as he is cutting his pumpkin open, and he avoids death by catching the coal the Devil flings at him in his hollowed-out pumpkin. Tegen retells this Irish folktale straightforwardly, bringing the legend into the present day: "On Halloween...we light a Jack O'Lantern to remember what happened to Jack." Dorman provides equally prosaic illustrations, picturing Jack with a long nose and perpetual frown and the Devil with slicked-back hair and mustache. Useful, if not particularly memorable. It doesn't hold a candle, though, to Wicked Jack, by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand (1995). (author's note) (Picture book/folktale. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 August #3

In this jack-o'-lantern origin tale, miserly Jack makes a deal with a cloven-hoofed stranger. When the man returns for his payback, he throws a burning coal at Jack, hitting Jack's pumpkin and creating "the beginnings of a smile." Condemned to forever walk the earth, disgruntled Jack watches a boy in a modern neighborhood place a jack-o'-lantern in a window. Dorman's cinematic scenes and Tegen's matter-of-fact prose ("On Halloween, some people believe ghosts and spooks will leave their graves and wander the earth again") provide genuine chills. Ages 3-8. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 July

PreS-Gr 2--In this poorly executed story that is based on Irish folktales, greedy Jack meets a strange man whom others say is the devil. Thinking only of his hunger, he gorges himself on fine foods after agreeing to repay the debt on the day he dies. Years later, on Halloween, the devil comes to collect the money and finds the man carving a pumpkin for soup on his doorstep. With murderous intent, the devil throws a burning coal at Jack, who catches it in the freshly carved pumpkin. Surviving the attack, he is condemned to wander the Earth after death. He carries his glowing pumpkin with him on his travels, and so is named "Jack of the lantern." Dorman's Photoshop painted illustrations are appropriately creepy and extremely imaginative; the devil's feet alone are enough to bring on a case of the shivers. The text, however, is awkward and confusing. With so many quality Halloween picture books available, most libraries can skip this one.--Heather Acerro, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN

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