JACK-O'-LANTERN by Edna Barth


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Barth starts with a snatch of Irish folklore encountered in her Halloween research, adds and substitutes details from other European devil tales, borrows further motifs culled from Stith Thompson's index, and gives the whole a New England setting and accent. The result is no hodgepodge but a smooth, lively and essentially authentic story about a stingy and cussed blacksmith called Mean Jack, who throws away on ornery whims the three wishes St. Peter grants him for a basely motivated good deed, but later has occasion to use the three gifts to escape the devil. When he dies neither St. Peter nor the devil himself will admit him and Mean Jack is doomed to wander endlessly with only a piece of hot coal in a hollowed out pumpkin to light his way. An obvious readaloud choice, and if Mean Jack doesn't chase all those silly sanitized witches from the Halloween skies it's neither his fault nor Barth's.

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 1974
Publisher: Seabury