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The Black Joke Mass Market Paperback – International Edition, September 1, 1987

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The Black Joke is a rousing sea story in the tradition of the great classic pirate tales. The time is the 1930s. The loot is bootleg liquor, not pirate gold. And the ship is the ?Black Joke,? the speediest, nimblest craft on the Newfoundland coast ? Jonathon Spence, owner and master. An unwelcome passenger enmeshes the boat and her crew (young Peter and Kye) in danger and near destruction?until the fiercely independent people of the island of Miquelon are caught up in the fate of the ?Black Joke? and the cargo aboard her.

About the Author

Farley Mowat was born in Belleville, Ontario, in 1921, and grew up in Belleville, Trenton, Windsor, Saskatoon, Toronto, and Richmond Hill. He served in World War II from 1940 until 1945, entering the army as a private and emerging with the rank of captain. He began writing for his living in 1949 after spending two years in the Arctic. Since 1949 he has lived in or visited almost every part of Canada and many other lands, including the distant regions of Siberia. He remains an inveterate traveller with a passion for remote places and peoples. He has twenty-five books to his name, which have been published in translations in over twenty languages in more than sixty countries. They include such internationally known works as People of the Deer, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, Never Cry Wolf, Westviking, The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float, Sibir, A Whale for the Killing, The Snow Walker, And No Birds Sang, and Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey. His short stories and articles have appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Maclean’s, Atlantic Monthly and other magazines.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart (September 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771066791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771066795
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,678,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I think what I like best about "The Black Joke," is that it introduces the reader to a little known corner of North America: Newfoundland and St-Pierre and Miquelon. The other thing I like about it is that it proves that Farley Mowat can write just about anything he sets his mind to.
With an historical background that is not negligible (nor does it matter much to the actual plot), the book Mowat has set out to write is ostensibly for children. It follows a classic "Boys Own" formula of putting the action safely into the hands of a pair of enterprising youngsters who then have to deal as well as they can with the baddies. It is really an excellent story of the sea; readers of maritime literature will love the boat that lends its name to the book, and bewail its apparent fate near the end. I suppose children will also like this book, although it seems so old-fashioned in many ways. Nevertheless, if you can convince a 12-year-old to have a look at it, you may make another convert, both to Mowat and the art of reading. Just don't forget to read it yourself!
Mowat seems to have tried an experiment with this book and I am confounded a bit to know why he didn't try and take it a bit further with other volumes. He had already written one of his Arctic stories for children, "Lost in the Barrens," by the time he wrote this one, and he subsequently wrote a sequel to it. But "The Black Joke" has to stand alone and I suppose all one can say is that, based on his output since its 1962 publication, it has nothing to do with fearing the hard work of writing. Excellent and underrated book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The style of this novel has not aged well. Written in the bad old days of sex role stereotypes and thoughtless use of insensitive racial epithets (in this case "Frenchies"), I almost put this book down after a few chapters. (The book does treat the French with affection, however.) But I continued reading and it turned into a gripping boys' adventure tale, and provided a glimpse of that bizarre phenomenon, a tiny piece of France on the eastern North American coast (the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, off the coast of Newfoundland), and an interesting piece of history, these islands' participation in prohibition-era rum-running to the U.S. But the characters are all stock, which, I guess, is only to be expected in a boys' novel of this era, especially the two peripheral female characters. Farley Mowat is for me one of the best writers of our time, as he is not afraid to call a spade a spade when it comes to telling the truth about what is happening and has happened to northern North America in the 20th century, the unbelievable cruelty and and rape of nature and indigenous peoples. This boys' adventure story though is both interesting and irritating.
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By Molly on December 26, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Great author. Great story. Really good for people who love the outdoors, sailing, and/or adventure. We enjoy many of the Farley Mowat books. Good read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read many of his books, and although I always enjoy them, this is not my favorite. I love the way he mixes in humor with tragedy.
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