and Peg lay down on the floor, but she couldn't sleep. She twisted and turned all night, just couldn't get to sleep. There was something bad about that place, she could feel it right down into her bones. So she got up and she walked around the old woman's house. Now, she soon knew that the old woman was a witch, for in her kitchen she found a decanter that could never be emptied. She poured wine into it, turned it upside down, the wine flowed and flowed and flowed. Water same thing, milk same thing. Flowed and flowed. Never stopped. Then out in the barn, she found a lantern that could shine a half mile light. You didn't have to fill it. You didn't have to light it. All you had to do was touch it, and it shone for a half a mile. And touch it Peg did, and it shone for half a mile ... .Ð from Peg Bearskin
Peg's big, ugly and hairy, but she has the wit, tenacity, and courage to outfox a witch and find husbands for her two beautiful sisters and one for herself as well. A typical folktale? Well, perhaps. But Peg is no typical heroine, and the ending of her story is no typical ending. This story was adapted by Philip Dinn and Andy Jones for "Jack-Five-Oh," a storytelling play written to mark the 50th anniversary of Newfoundland's entry into confederation with Canada; Mercedes Barry, who told the story in some versions of the play, helped refine the adaptation.
Jones and Dinn created their version from that told by Mrs. Elizabeth Brewer of Freshwater, Placentia Bay, and collected in Herbert Halpert and John Widdowson's Folktales of Newfoundland. Elly Cohen's linocut illustrations perfectly capture the dark humour and beauty of the tale.
Musician, actor, and writer, Philip Dinn was a founding member of Figgy Duff, Newfoundland's accalimed folk rock band, and of Sheila's Brush Theatre Troupe. He appeared in many television shows and feature-length films, and in numerous plays, among them Jack-Five-Oh and Jack Meets the Cat. He was one of the adapters of Peg Bearskin.
"Sometimes a book is more than the text and illustrations between its covers; sometimes a book is a work of art in itself. The story of Peg Bearskin and the accompanying illustrations by Elly Cohen are a wonder, but to have a book with as much time and detail afforded to the type, design and printing, is an added bonus these days when publishers seem to deal with this as an afterthought. Indeed, a book as object d'art is a rare find these days."Ð Greg Locke, The Sunday Independent
"This story is told in an immediate conversational voice, full of the salt tang of our easternmost province. The adapters Dinn and Jones, of Figgy Duff and CODCO fame respectively, have left enough traces of the Newfoundland dialect to give the tale authentic flavour ... . Cohen's black-and-white linocuts, reminiscent of David Blackwood's work, perfectly complement this homespun style ... . Peg Bearskin is a wonderful introduction to Newfoundland's rich oral culture." ÐPhilippa Sheppard, Quill and Quire
"Read the text and you will hear the voice of a local Newfoundland storyteller; take a closer look at the text and you will see true love for the art of bookmaking ... . This unique tangibility of voice and type creates a strong sense of place, while the tale of Peg Bearskin itself makes ample use of universal narrative patterns: There are three daughters, three quests, and three husbands. But Peg is a ferociously ugly and thoroughly unconventional heroine who makes sure that the happy end holds a humourous surprise in store. Cohen's stark black-and-white linocuts reveal the darker side of this traditional tale." ÐNikola von Merveldt, The White Ravens 2004: A Selection of International Children's and Youth Literature
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