J is for Jack
I love Jack tales and I encourage my storytellers to have at least one Jack (or Jill) tale in their repertoire.
If you don't readily recognise who I mean, think "Jack and the Beanstalk", "The House that Jack Built", "Silly Jack" (one of my favourites), and "Jack and the Villains". Jack is the "hero" of numerous folktales and nursery rhymes ("Jack and Jill", "Jack be Nimble, Jack be Quick" etc). I qualify "hero" because Jack is certainly not a hero in the traditional sense of clever, strong, and handsome. In fact, he usually the opposite -- foolish, weak, and plain-looking. But, it's usually those qualities and his silliness that wins the day.
Jack tales are particularly well-known and loved in America and if you don't know them, check out the work of Appalachian storyteller Ray Hicks, the late storyteller Chuck Larkin, and the very much alive Ed Stivender. And to begin your own research into the Jack Tales, begin with Richard Chase's classic Jack Tales (1943) who traces the Appalachian sources back through Council Harmon, the 19th-century "Father of Jack Tales," and beyond. And until you get your hands on the book, try this link http://ccb.lis.illinois.edu/Projects/storytelling/jsthomps/tales.htm#bibliography and begin your own journey into the Jack Tales.
And when you get back, share one with me.
“But that was always the way with Jacks, wasn’t it? They were clever and fools all at once.”