Jack and Mary in the Land of Thieves (ebook)

Number of pages:
Publication date:
May 2022
For readers:
6 to 12
Juvenile Fiction:
Fairy Tales & Folklore / Adaptations
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Jack and Mary in the Land of Thieves

by Andy Jones
with illustrations by Darka Erdelji

Now the Land of Thieves, as you can probably guess, was beyond the limb of the law. It was lousy with robbers, rowdies, thieves, preachers, bullyboys, hooligans, scofflaws, skullies, skeets, and sleeveens. Just about the only honest people in the land were Jack and Mary. And they worked as hard as ever they could, and by and by they grew to be rich.

Award-winning storyteller Andy Jones and acclaimed illustrator Darka Erdelji are back with another whimsical, wise, and witty “Jack tale.”

Jack and Mary in the Land of Thieves finds Jack, that everyman of folktales, married to his sweetheart Mary, the best woman ever born and a mighty fine baker to boot. Their lives are as happy and successful as can be, until an underhanded sea captain and Jack’s own bragging get the better of our hero. Jack is sent the once to work on Slave Islands and Mary is turned out of house and home. But Mary is resolute and resourceful, and has plans to find Jack and restore their fortunes.

Inspired by several traditional and classic works, including Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, the medieval tale of Frederick of Jennen, and the Newfoundland story “Jack and the Slave Islands,” Andy Jones has crafted a funny, moving, and delightfully original story about love, treachery, perseverance, and cherry cake. Darka Erdelji’s gorgeous illustrations capture the drama, humour, and beauty of this wonderful tale.

With a hidden key, a storm at sea, and a singing mynah bird named Baxter who carries more than his share of tunes, Jack and Mary in the Land of Thieves will delight youngsters and oldsters alike.

As a special bonus, the melodies of all of Baxter’s songs are included, so that readers can learn them, sing them, and share them. The melodies, created by Andy Jones, were inspired by several traditional tunes; Pamela Morgan kindly helped with the musical notation.

Designed by Veselina Tomova, of Vis a Vis Graphics (St. John’s, NL).

Want to know more about the book? You'll find some fun background information on our blog.

This ebook includes ALT text for print-disabled readers.

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Other formats available: print, and audiobook

What folks are saying about the print edition

  • Winner of the 2012 BMO Winterset Award
  • Winner of the 2014 Bruneau Family Award for Children's and Young Adult Writing

"The bardic, original voice of Andy Jones in another of his word perfect Jack tales gives us a world away from now, a world that celebrates Newfoundland’s sailing history, song, and the art of storytelling itself. Mary is a strong, resilient, unforgettable character and through her cunning, teaches Jack a lesson. Jones never once allows his tale to fall into any kind of didacticism. Instead, his use of humour, sensory detail, language, and adept narrative twists in the structure of his tale makes Jack & Mary In the Land of Thieves a book that does what classics do – appeals to an audience of young and old alike.

With this book, Jones defines the kind of excellence C.S.Lewis believed in when he wrote: I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last."
– Jury’s statement for 2014 Bruneau Family Award (one of the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards)

"It is a great pleasure to listen to Andy Jones tell a story, and, happily, his printed stories fill you with the same hushed anticipation from the first sentence. To read this book aloud is to become a storyteller. … A worthy follow-up to the acclaimed Jack and the Manger, which won the NL children’s literature award, and The Queen of Paradise’s Garden…"
– Alison Mews, in Canadian Review of Materials

"Darka Erdelji’s whimsical illustrations perfectly reflect the imaginative energy of the story, adding movement and clues about the characters on almost every page, with both small sketches and full-page spreads."
– Joanne Findon, in Quill & Quire

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