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Jingo Django (1971)

Jingo Django (1971)

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4.13 of 5 Votes: 5
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024102076X (ISBN13: 9780241020760)
atlantic little-brown

About book Jingo Django (1971)

Has there really been anyone else writing stories like this for young readers over the course of the past several decades? Since the onset of the time that his writing of vintage western adventure stories really took off in the 1970s, Sid Fleischman has basically had the market cornered on this particular brand of modern dime novels for the juvenile audience. We love to read stories with adventure and heart that are set in the days of the great western frontier boom when life seemed so much simpler and bouncing from town to town earning money on the merits of one's own lateral thinking was a real work opportunity. Every boy carries at least a little piece of the romanticism of the old American west in his heart from the day his proud papa fits him with his first genuine cowboy hat (or cap gun, or chaps, or toy spurs, or something of the kind), and the call of the wild west never completely leaves him after that point. Enter Jingo Hawkes to our story, a youngster without parents whose only memory of a father is that of a no-good rapscallion who dumped him off at an orphanage when Jingo was only five years old. Approximately twelve years old now, Jingo works for the putrid Mrs. Daggatt, proprietor of the orphanage, who cares not for her tender young charges except as a means of revenue; she accomplishes this by loaning out their physical labor services to independent contractors looking for large groups of children who will work on the cheap. Jingo finds his chance to permanently evade the custody of Mrs. Daggatt when a couple of strangers come looking for him at the orphanage: first, the sly and criminally inclined General Scurlock, who has a particular job in mind for Jingo that will put the boy right in the middle of a fight over a possible hidden treasure; second, a tall, intelligent man who goes by several different false names, and claims to be Jingo's father. Jingo understands well enough that the first man's motivation for seeking him out is simple greed, but the second man puzzles him. How could this be his father, when he clearly remembers his uncaring paternal figure as having had only one leg and looking completely different from the person who now claims to be his father? It's clear that this stranger is lying, but what does he have to gain by pretending to be Jingo's father? When the mysterious stranger hears about the treasure that General Scurlock had enlisted Jingo's help to find, he takes Jingo along with him on an unpredictable adventure across the U.S. that has all the elements of a classic rousing western tale: bandits, clever swindles, the threat of violence, a kidnapping or two, betrayal, a final confrontation involving the bad guys and firearms... Jingo Django lacks nothing of what commonly makes western novels exciting and memorable. And knowing Sid Fleischman, you can count on a few extra surprises in the story that will cause the narrative to veer off into some unexpected new areas. For my money, the best thing about this book is the intangible us-against-the-world feeling that arises over time between Jingo and the man who claims to be his father. The whole spirit of this part of the story is built on Jingo's base attitude of knowing that he and the man aren't perfect and never will be, but they're capable of doing some awesome things together, and if they can each look past the imperfections of the other, then what could come next is a ride that neither will want to miss. It's sort of a faint watermark of an idea behind the story that we could all learn from observing, to realize that perfection isn't necessary to find a partner for whatever kind of adventure might present itself in our lives, and if we're willing to look past the imperfections of our chosen associates, then we might have the chance to find something extraordinary together. I would give Jingo Django a solid two and a half stars, and I considered for quite a while rounding that rating up instead of down. There's a lot to speak positively about in this book, and I would readily recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed other works by Sid Fleischman.

Jingo Django is a fun adventure book that I could see kids loving -- I definitely loved this sort of book when I was a kid, and even as an adult, I greatly enjoyed it. With buried treasure, adventure, and unforgettable characters (with equally unforgettable names), this is a great story for young boys and girls.Django goes on a quest expecting to find treasure and learns so much about himself and his abilities. This story has both coming-of-age and adventure elements and would appeal to children/middle grade readers. The plot is a bit simplistic and doesn't cover much ground, which is why I wouldn't recommend it for a young adult audience. Django is really the only character that grows within the story, which is fine -- but again, for those who like a complex story, not so great. I really loved how Fleischman is able to show seedy characters while still retaining the charm of an old-fashioned adventure -- and I love how Django is able to use his intelligence to outwit some of the less-than-honest characters.The narration is excellent: each character has its own voice and Charles Carroll really brought life and personality to all the different characters. I sometimes avoid books with children in them, because a lot of narrators tend to make children's voices needlessly whiny, but Carroll doesn't do that. He uses his normal voice and it works really well for the story.Overall, I think Jingo Django is an interesting, fast-paced adventure story. It'll be a quick read and has enough in it to keep the reader engaged from beginning to end.*I received a copy of this audiobook through the publisher from Audiobook Jukebox's Solid Gold Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.*

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