The Queen of Paradise's Garden
written and read by Andy Jones
Included in the Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids & Teens (Autumn 2021)
Once upon a time, and a very good time it was, not in your time, indeed not in my time, but in olden times, when quart bottles held half a gallon and houses were papered with pancakes and pigs run about with forks stuck in their backs seein who wanted a slice o’ ham, there were two old people and they never had no children, and they figured they were too old to ever have any.
So begins Andy Jones’s wonderful adaptation of a traditional Newfoundland tale. Of course, it’s clear from the story’s beginning that there are children on the way, and one of those children is Jack, the delightful, mischievous, big-hearted hero of so many Newfoundland tales. Told with the humour, warmth and sly wit that have made Andy Jones one of the Island’s finest and best-loved storytellers, The Queen of Paradise’s Garden follows Jack on his way to the land of the Queen of Paradise, where he searches for a magic fruit to make his parents young again, and finds quite a few other handy things as well.
The story is a free adaptation of a tale told by Albert Heber Keeping of Grand Bank, which he got from Billy Quann of Sagona Island; Keeping’s version was published in Halpert and Widdowson’s seminal collection, Folktales of Newfoundland.
This audio book was directed by Charlie Tomlinson, and recorded and produced by Chris Brookes of Battery Radio. The music was performed by Christina Smith.
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The print version of this audio book was named to the International Youth Library’s 2010 White Ravens List, and short-listed for the 2010 Bruneau Family Award for Children’s/Young Adult Literature. You can find the print edition here.
Praise for the print version
"Jones’s retelling effectively captures the rhythms of oral storytelling and the cadences of Newfoundland dialect. Illustrator Darka Erdelji’s illustrations are a fine match. Enchanting, magical, and very skillful, they blend rich, evocative blues, greens, and reds, delicate line drawings in black and white, and rough, folk-art representations of the characters. All in all, a wonderful, rollicking tale."
– Carlyn Zwarenstein, starred review in Quill & Quire
"Andy Jones and Darka Erdelji, along with small press publisher Marnie Parsons and designer Veselina Tomova, have created a marvellous book that deserves a place in every school, library and folktale collection."
– Alison Mews, in Canadian Review of Materials (highly recommended)
"The reteller is writer and actor Andy Jones, a founding member of Newfoundland’s CODCO troupe. With this provenance, you might expect something original and quite fine; you won’t be disappointed."
– Susan Perren, in the Globe and Mail.