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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inventive novel of Newfoundland and St-Pierre
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...
Published on April 15 2000 by Owen Hughes

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping boys' yarn, but grating
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,...
Published on July 11 2000


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping boys' yarn, but grating, July 11 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Black Joke (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inventive novel of Newfoundland and St-Pierre, April 15 2000
By 
Owen Hughes (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Black Joke (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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5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read for adults and kids alike, July 4 2008
By 
W. keate (Richmond, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
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As usual, Farley does an excellent job on this book for kids. It is full of thrills and suspense and is even great for adults wanting to learn Newfie 'english, idioms and pronounciation. Unfortunately the Newfie speak is slowly disappearing but a lot of the accent is still there.

Not only is this adventure story exciting but you also learn a lot about the geography of our tenth province and the French Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon which during the prohibition days were very much involved with the whiskey trade to the New England coastal States.

A good book for younger ones to get their teeth into.
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The Black Joke
The Black Joke by Farley Mowat (Mass Market Paperback - Sept. 1 1987)
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