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THE TRUE STORY OF TRAPPER JACK’S LEFT BIG TOE by Ian Wallace

THE TRUE STORY OF TRAPPER JACK’S LEFT BIG TOE

By Ian Wallace (Author) , Ian Wallace (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7613-1493-8
Publisher: Roaring Brook

When Josh learns from his best friend that Trapper John’s big toe is in a tobacco tin behind the Sourdough Saloon counter, he’s skeptical. But when Trapper John opens the tobacco tin to prove it, a wild critter snags the blackish bony bit before Josh can satisfy his curiosity. Running through a town in the Yukon Territory, Josh, his companions, and his surroundings are realistically and almost timelessly drawn in subdued colored pencil. Unfortunately, the white text often disappears into the background art, making the story hard to read. If it were not for “Mack the Knife” playing on a jukebox and a service station with gas pumps, it would be hard to know that the rough and rugged time period has to be set sometime between the 1950s to the present day. Though a tall tale is expected, the well-modulated, matter-of-fact tone expands the believability quotient and the illustrations’ realism. Adding to the mystery, Wallace says such a saloon exists and is run by Jake, who will slide the dead-black toe into a beverage for any brave grownup to kiss through the liquid. The reward—a certificate of accomplishment. (In fact, an Internet search will produce the address of this Klondike-era landmark.) A great story, so well paced even the author’s note brings the fluid text to a smooth and satisfying end. (Picture book. 6-10)