Jul 15, 2010

Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick, Jack Be Calderwuggenbum.

"Why call me Jack?" thought Jack be Nimble, Jack Be quick.
Why not call me Reginald.
Or Brian or Arnold or Cediric or Calderwuggenbum?
Why call me Jack? The whole planet is covered in Jacks.
Jack and Jill. Jack Sprat. Jack the Giant Killer.
Jack and the Bean stalk. Jack and this and Jack and that. Union Jack. Everyone was Jack.

Little Jack Horner.
Jack in the box.
The House That Jack Built.
Little Jack Jingle, Jack-a-Dandy, Jack Rowland, Jack Tar, and Black Jack Davy.
The list went on.
All losers.
Thieves and Buccan-ears. (except for Jack Foster who has small ears and is a good bloke)

And on. 
Even in French - Frere Jacques. And one called Frost:  "Look out! Look out! Jack Frost is about! He's after your fingers and toes!"
So many, many Jacks!

Finally, frustrated and fabulously confused, our Jack, nimble and quick, sat down in a huff.
He was tempted to sit in the corner.....
But, not wanting a demarcation dispute, decided not to.

Meanwhile, a few feet away, the small red flame of the candlestick flickered toward him, beckoning.
Jack looked out of the corner of his eye, peered at the candle and it's flame.
"I won't do it," he said aloud to the candle. "Once I've jumped over you ..... well, it's all over, isn't it?

The candle flickered back accusingly.
"And then what?" Jack said.
"And then what?" the candle seemed to ask.
"Hmmph, "said Jack. "They'll print me out on some cheap paper,  stick me in another Mother Goose, give me some silly cute face, spread my skinny legs over the candle as if I am an olympic vaulter vaulting over a cage full of lions.
"The first kid to see it will go giggle giggle gargar goop and then most likely puke some half masticated Johnson's Baby Food on the page so it sticks together and the next time it's open  they'll rip me in two. Riiippppp, just like that."

End of Jack!

Jack waved his hand around in agitation.
His waved it around. And around. Faster and faster.
But his hand froze in mid air as the candle flickered a little and began to sputter.
Jack's mouth opened wide.
The candle had never done that before.
The candle sputtered again.
Jack's eyes popped in disbelief.
For an instant he took in the candles' bright light.
For an instant he felt the warmth of it's friendly, flickering, faithful, fancy, fickle, felicitious, finicky, feeble, facetious, floribund, fibrillatingly fragile flame.

Then, without any warning, and with the eensey wheensy smallest of noises, the candle blinked out.
The world went black.
Jack blinked once.
He blinked twice.
He opened his eyes. He shut them.
But no matter what he did, the candle didn't come back.
The candle was dark, the candle was black.
The whole world was black.

Jack sat in the dark for a long time, looking towards the candle.
He sat there all night.
And in the morning, when the sun came up, the world was still black.
Still he sat there.
He sat there all day. And the next day, and for the next. And for the next.
He sat there waiting. And waiting.


  1. Ok. This is a cliff-hanger! Love your stories, Andrew, and the illustrations are fabulous. Keep 'em coming!

  2. So if you want your kid to be a criminal when he grows up, call him Jack? Is that the moral of the story?
    Apparently, in Norway, 25% of inmates are named Ronny, Raymond, Roger and a fourth name on R that I can´t remember.
    But the illustrations are lovely....

  3. Hi Andrew, well I started reading and understanding, but you know ... I got lost between the English literature and the dictionary and the translator of google and my ignorance of your language.
    Anyway, I laughed. and enjoy your creative work.
    In the future, always read what you write, I start laughing, because I assume that is fun. (So when your other blog friends look at me sideways, I do not embarrass). LOL!

    Well, now
    Thanks Andrew, thanks about you said of the sun on my blog, (here today really is no sun). today is snowing early (really). and think how it should be your Australian sun. My daughter recently came to Australia and I hope she can enjoy the sun and the sea. You should have your computer on a raft, no?
    a hug.

  4. I really love your illustrations and the unceasing flow of your imagination! I hope Jack does not wait still in the dark. If he doesn't want to go outside and enjoy Summer feast, but is not that desperate could you let him simply buy a new candle?:)) Well, if he hates his name, he could come to Bulgaria - we don't have Jacks here and he'll be unique!... To be honest, I had to use the F pages of the vocabulary!...Thank you!:)

  5. Yes Jack, please be nimble, please be quick. One leap, and you may have your fortune turned. After all, a cage full of lions is nothing if you have the right length of pole in your hand. :)

  6. And didn't you know? A light that goes out could always be lighted back on?

    So Jack my boy, if you're feeling out of luck, here's a four leaf clover just for safe keeping. And there's still plenty more where that came from. :)

    Besides, I think Jack is a nice enough name. :)

  7. Super work, Monsieur. I'm quite touched by the story. See what I mean about honesty? Hehehee...

  8. I love how you take something old and twist it into something new. Great recycling there Andrew. You are so creative, I really love how you used all the Jack's... very clever

  9. Ehh ... I tried again, I'm not sure that what I read is fun.
    that confusion!. I do not know what to say. eeehhhh .... Great illustration!

  10. Ha ha! If only Jack had known about road flares...

  11. Hmmmm.... Reading your alliterating list... I needed to look up SEVERAL words in the dictionary. Not cool, not cool - i.e. not cool for ME. Because otherwise it IS cool.

  12. Hi Andrew. Love your illustrative work and would 100% come back and visit soon ... but I think the kid holding up W and I in your header might give me nightmares! lol

  13. Hello Elizabeth, thankyou. I tale a great deal of inspiration from your work. It's all sitting in my head, being munched over :)

  14. Heh Janne, did you noticed I slipped some text in? Heh, next I will be approaching big boats to have them stick pictures of my witches in their command rooms... (Just kidding!!!)

    Oh yes, I hope I didn't insult all the Jacks of the world, I should have said storybook jacks!!!

  15. Roberto, I am really sorry for slipping in some strange words. I was just pushing the alliteration for farce. As a delaying tactic for the next terse sentences.
    Just to break up the rhythm, they are silly words, mostly mis-spelt, which would give google translate a work out!!

    I hope your daughter has/had some great weather here in Oz!!! Are a computer on a raft. Superb idea. Especially if it rains too much!!

    hugs to you too!!

  16. Hey rossichka

    And my apologies too for stretching those F words!
    Thank you for your kind comment. Oh poor old Jack! I think "jack' must have been an every man name in the middle ages. Like "Hey Jack!" is the equivalent of "Hey Mister!".

    I wrote an end to the story, but it was sad. I will check tomorrow to see if Jack is still there aand he may like a holiday in Bulgaria?

  17. Hello Amalia, well you know in the old fashioned fairy books they always used to have a moral? Like always have a pole around if you are a pole vaulter!!

    The moral for this one would be "Be Happy with Who You Are, and Don't try to be someone Else".

    Of course, the real moral is, If Your Name is Jack Be Nimble, always carry matches.... :)

  18. Karen, that is great news about Mike.

    Thanks for looking at my work again! You know, I was tempted to illustrate Jack jumping over the candle stick? But now I have found all those Jacks!! What a wealth of Material. I'd never heard of some of them!!!

  19. Haya Kinga and Roberto, my apologies go out again for my misuse of English. !!! And my silly story.

    It's all based on personification of a non-real figure, and asking what if?

    Half of the "F" words are mis-spelt. So they would be difficult to find. Plus I make up words...

    bet you never knew that? :)

  20. Michele ha, now that's funny!!
    My first thought was that Jack should smoke, but of course, as nursery rhyme character, that would be bad!!!

  21. Bethan, thank you. That's a really interesting site you have.!!!

    Ohh the girl with the W and I? She is just having a bad hair day - she actually looks like me, but I have less of a suntan!!

  22. Entertaining as always...I especially like this line..."I won't do it," he said aloud to the candle. "Once I've jumped over you ..... well, it's all over, isn't it?"
    A mate in touch with his fate...
    yet you leave something in the balance.

  23. Hello Pat, great to see you :)
    That line, hmm, must have slipped in :)

    Still waiting for a call from Johnson's Baby Food solicitors!!


    andrew :)

  24. You are equally a good strorytellert as you are an illustrious ilusltraitor.

    Sorri, I can't see. it's black.

    Seriously Andrew I love your story telling prowess! I like Jack's face. Goodnight!

  25. Oh, Andrew! I didn't know this is a nursery rhyme! When I realised it, I opened "My Humpty Dympty Book of Nursery Rhymes" and found it there. It's a gift from an English friend of mine. She sent it to me a few years ago when I was putting on stage "Mary Poppins" and was wondering what the meaning of the cow jumping over the moon was. Well, now I know that there isn't any. (But it helped me in my directing). Or almost there isn't. As with most of the nursery rhymes all over the world. As with "Jack be nimble..." So, you'd better forget what I've written above...:-) But how could I know??! Still, I like your illustrations, even more now! And my conclusion from you story is: there's no longer "Jack be nimble" without the candle...

  26. Thankyou Ces, I am in the dark too :)
    I'm glad you like the story. I thought I had bit of more than my shoe... err more than I could chew, when I started this one!!


    Happy DinnerTime?

  27. Hey Rossichka

    I'm sorry for the confusion. I approached it obliquely .... my apologies!

    I'm glad you have that book. Nuresry rhymes are great, eh? Very entertaining, they have lots of visuals and they mean as much or as little as we want them to be.

    The cow jumping over the moon?
    Isn't that a wonderful image?
    It means more than a lot of real things!

    see you :)

  28. Yes, a wonderful image and a nice chsllenge for illustrating! Pamela Travers's cow is dancing - something absurd for her temper, so the only solution to go back to her normal life is to make another absurd thing - i.e. to jump over the moon... It was a problem for me, because I had big puppets and actors with masks, but we managed to reveal the moment in a funny way, I hope...Have a nice weekend!
    Thank you for following my blog!:-)

  29. hei, is it true that Jack is a character (usually a young boy or a teenager perhaps), who is central to many of the wonder stories that get labeled "Jack-tales"?

    im thinking of it while im reading this post!
    im just saying, your story is quite a wonder ;)

    i just learnt another thing from you, you know what i mean :))


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