Thursday, September 30, 2021

Robin Jacques' front and back covers: "The Gypsy Fiddle"

With its gorgeous Robin Jacques dust jacket illustrations, this book looks like it could fit right alongside all of Jacques' "A Book of..." collaborations with Ruth Manning-Sanders. I especially like the fluffle of bunnies above. (Yes, it's correctly called a fluffle.)
  • Title: The Gypsy Fiddle
  • Subtitle: and Other Tales Told by the Gypsies
  • Author: John Hampden (1898-1974)
  • Illustrator: Robin Jacques (1920-1995)
  • Publisher: The World Publishing Company
  • Year: 1969
  • Pages: 160
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Price: $3.95
  • Dust jacket blurb: "The stories Gypsies tell around the campfire are culled from different countries they travel through; so this collection contains tales from the British Isles, from Poland, from Hungary, from Slovakia, Transylvania, Bukovina, Turkey, and Syria. ... The gaiety, the nonsense, and the robust good nature of Gypsy tales is an unceasing delight."
  • A more honest view of 20th century Romani life: It's only one perspective, but an illuminative place to start might be this 2009 piece written by Roxy Freeman. "I was ... completely unaware of the outrageous way the media portrays the Gypsy population. As children, we had very little contact with people living in houses and because we didn't go to school or watch television, I was oblivious," she writes. "If it hadn't been for literature, maybe I would have remained unaware of the way we were described."
  • Hampden's dust jacket bio: "John Hampden is a British author whose career has included teaching and publishing, as well as writing a number of books for young people. He has had a lifelong interest in folklkore, and for this collection did a considerable amount of research among the classic sources of Gypsy lore. Mr. Hampden lives in Sussex, England."
  • Jacques' dust jacket bio: "Robin Jacques is a well-known artist and designer who has illustrated a large number of books. British by birth, he now lives in the South of France, but he enjoys travel, and with his wife and son has also lived in Mexico, the United States, and South Africa."
  • Introduction: It's a eight-page essay by Jan Yoors. I'm not sure what to think about Yoors, who is also cited by author Hampden as an expert in his Author's Note at the end of the book. Yoors ran away to join a group of Romani as a child, giving him a unique perspective on the culture. And his 1967 book The Gypsies has a 4.18 rating (out of 5) on Goodreads. But some of the reviews there give me pause. Yoors' perspective might not be the one you want to immerse yourself in when learning more about the Romani people. 
  • Titles of some stories included: The Golden Box, The Yellow Dragon, Ashypelt, Clever Pat, Magic Apples, Batim the Horse, A Wicked Fox, Small White Stones, Goggle-Eyes, Baldpate.
  • Online reviews of The Gypsy Fiddle: Zilch. Nada.
OK, then how about some more Robin Jacques illustrations? 

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