Book: Jack Plank Tells Tales
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Jack Plank has just been laid off from his pirate job. He's put ashore with a little money in his pocket and no idea what to do next. He finds a boarding house and the landlady reluctantly agrees to let him live there on the condition that he finds a proper job as soon as possible (i.e, nothing piratey). But Jack searches day in and day out, and never finds a job. Or rather, he finds several, but they always seem to remind him of some crazy event in his past.
The household is kept entertained by his nightly tales around the dinner table, but as the days pass, Jack gets more and more worried. How is he ever going to find the perfect job?
While Natalie Babbitt doesn't have the general-public star power of Madeleine L'Engle or Beverly Cleary, she's one of those names known to teachers and librarians for a long, long time. After reading this book, I know why. Jack Plank's stories run the gamut from hair-raising (the mummy's hand) to sweet (the music-loving crocodile. No, really), but the whole book has a light, charming, tall-tale tone about it.
It took me a couple of hours to finish Jack Plank Tells Tales, but due to the episodic nature, this would work perfectly as a middle or upper-elementary classroom or bedtime readaloud across a week or two.