Ti-Jean is the lovable everyman hero of many traditional stories that originated in France and were transferred to Canada centuries ago. In this collection of tales, Jan Andrews brings him to life for a new audience.
A brief introduction explains the history behind Ti-Jean, whom Andrews compares to the English “Jack” of many well-loved fairy tales. This useful background sets the scene for the three stories that follow, in which Ti-Jean retains the same helpful personality in entirely different scenarios. In the first story, he matches wits with a vain and greedy princess, while in the second he confronts a vindictive, troll-like creature. In the final story, Ti-Jean finds happiness with a clever princess, but not until after he has endured a lot of hard work.
Andrews is a seasoned Canadian storyteller with a gift for spinning a yarn. Although the tales are firmly ensconced in the realm of folklore, she does not lose sight of her contemporary readers or North American setting. Ti-Jean’s bride-to-be, for example, is not free to choose her own husband, because “life was not then as it is now.” When Ti-Jean undertakes a journey, he travels through logging camps and sees a moose. These are light touches, but they do the trick. Similarly, Dusan Petricic’s witty, vivacious drawings bring a modern edge to the whole package.
Ti-Jean’s stories are full of magic, good and evil, far-off lands, and princesses, but part of his appeal is his ordinariness in the midst of all this fantasy. Andrews encourages us to make up our own story, only cautioning that, in good storytelling tradition, we should “be careful to share that story with someone else.”