Jack and the Hur­ri­cane

The Compass - - INSIDE OUT - Harold N. Wal­ters ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Hey, Josh, thanks for men­tion­ing me on the ded­i­ca­tion page of Jack and the Hur­ri­cane [Tuck­amore Books]. Did you re­al­ize you were in­clud­ing me when you said, “To my grand­par­ents … and your grand­par­ents, too!”?

I’m claim­ing recog­ni­tion ac­cord­ing to that last bit; I’m a grand­par­ent. Chil­dren’s books have al­ways tick­led me, even be­fore I ar­rived at my dotage. And I have a fa­tal at­trac­tion to cup­cakes. Those il­lus­trated be­neath your ded­i­ca­tion are another rea­son why I clap hands for the whole page.

That Jack! The young vill’yain ought to have lis­tened to Granny and not ven­tured out into the hur­ri­cane.

What could Granny do? Young boys — even boys with red troll hair such as Jack — are bound to find a rea­son to has­ten into the wind; in Jack’s case, those yum-yum-li­cious cup­cakes that he is com­mit­ted to de­liv­er­ing to Cousin Erin’s birth­day party.

We know why Jack, un­be­knownst to Granny, rigged out in his rub­ber clothes and dodged off into a storm rem­i­nis­cent of mean ol’ Igor of a few years back — ded­i­ca­tion to his cousin; de­ter­mi­na­tion to fin­ish a task; and down­right damned fool­ish­ness.

I don’t re­mem­ber ex­actly why, nigh onto sixty years ago, I, of my own cracked bay-boy vo­li­tion, braced my­self against the hur­ri­cane Ione’s fu­ri­ous wind. I do re­call it was great sport for a bunch of us to hold our jack­ets open, let Ione blow them full as sails in a … well, in a hur­ri­cane, I s’pose, and heave me and my buddy-boys twenty or thirty feet into the pro­tec­tive [?] arms of a clump of alders. Cracked, eh b’ys? Jack man­ages to stay on his feet as he wan­ders through the hur­ri­cane. Sure, he’s more or less obliv­i­ous to the stormy weather. Be­lieve me, cup­cakes can do that to a guy; make him obliv­i­ous to his sur­round­ings, that is.

When he walks in the storm [!], Jack finds his neigh­bour, Mr. Sweet­wa­ter, bail­ing out his base­ment.

Almost as heed­less as a leg­endary Jack who bartered a cow for a hand­ful of beans, Cup­cake Jack fan­cies Mrs. Sweet­wa­ter has over­flowed the bath­tub. He also be­lieves that fire­men man­ning a road­block are res­cu­ing a quintal of cats from a tree — be­cause it has been rain­ing cats and… [Come on now, you don’t ex­pect me to at­tempt such lame hu­mour, do you?]. Jack also thinks a group of sol­diers is lit­er­ally fight­ing the storm; he imag­ines can­nons po­si­tioned to blast the be­jab­bers out of the clouds. Is Jack truly as stund as a stump? No. No. No. Jack is the wit­less, spell-bound vic­tim of en­chant­ing cup­cakes; cup­cakes whose tops are frosted with swirls of choco­late and straw­berry ic­ing; cup­cakes whose frosted tops are sprin­kled with a rainbow of hun­dreds and thou­sands.

By the way, along the way, sim­ply be­cause they ask, Jack treats who­ever he en­coun­ters with — guess what — cup­cakes from a di­min­ish­ing pile.

This ra­zor-sharp, cup­cakede­prived grand­par­ent soon sur­mised that Jack would run out of cup­cakes if he kept feed­ing peo­ple. Surely, sharp-as-whips chil­dren will rec­og­nize Jack’s gen­eros­ity and fear he will run out of cup­cakes be­fore he reaches Erin’s house.

Even­tu­ally, after travers­ing washed-out roads, wit­ness­ing leaf-lit­tered chaos and with­stand­ing hur­ri­cane gales, Jack ar­rives at his des­ti­na­tion, soaked to his draw­ers and bear­ing a plate whose glass dome shel­ters a sin­gle — yet, de­spite the storm, still look­ing yum-yum-li­cious — cup­cake.

Per­haps towed by the cup­cakes’ Siren song, sort of like Ham­lin’s rats by the piper’s tune, all hands — Granny, Mr. Sweet­wa­ter, the fire­men, the sol­diers — ar­rive at Erin’s house shortly after Jack steps inside…

… and they all lived hap­pily ever after … while par­ty­ing hearty on cup­cakes and … some more cup­cakes.

Oh, I for­got. There’s an um­brella in this book. It’s rainbow-hued and, although bat­tered and bent, it sug­gests calm after the storm. I know that’s what the um­brella sug­gests be­cause it’s there on the last page in­verted and con­tain­ing a pud­dle of rain­wa­ter with happy duck­ies swimming in it and a blue­bird roost­ing on its han­dle.

One other thing. There’s also a dog in this book. He’s a hefty New­found­land. At one point he holds the um­brella. He ac­com­pa­nies Jack on the washed-out road to Erin’s house. He wears a col­lar and nametag and, although his tag can’t be read, I bet a loonie — Frig it, I bet two loonies! — the dog’s name is Bo’sun.

Thank you for read­ing.

Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? He can be reached at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com.

A photo pub­lished in the Nov. 18th edi­tion of The Com­pass on Page A3 show­ing a mem­ber of 295 Royal Cana­dian Sea Cadet Corps Bac­calieu parad­ing with a Cana­dian flag in­cor­rectly iden­ti­fied the flag bearer. The girl in the photo was Petty Of­fi­cer 2nd Class Carissa Pike.

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