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The Legend of Juggin Joe

by Joseph Yakel

      Joseph Yakel has brought the world The Legend of Juggin Joe, a delightfully funny tale he conjured up from the hills of upstate New York. It's the story of young Joe Yakel, the most talented jug player in the entire world. Readers learn about Joe's escapades as a child and how he come to discover the jug. He's discovered, cuts a record, and even plays on the Grand Ole Opry. Though Joe dearly loved playing the jug, his other love was the preacher's daughter named Florentine. Unfortunately, the preacher stepped between them, and Joe set off on his musical tour. But music didn't impress the preacher, and even Joe's stint in the Army didn't sway him, nor his meeting with President Reagan and Soviet Premier Gorbechev and Joe's part in ending the Cold War. No, it just finally took the preacher's own search for forgiveness to finally bring these two lovers together.

The Legend of Juggin Joe sometimes reads like Forest Gump meets The Dillards. It's funny. It's warm. It's full of mountainisms.

The author has drawn on his own experiences with the people of upstate New York and his own fascination with the jug. He has written the book in what he calls "country speak," a phonetically-written dialect of the mountain people of the region. I found myself wanting to give this language a southern twang but soon I realized that this is closer to Down East than Down Home, with its more New England flavor. It was a bit difficult to read at first and probably is best read out loud for full effect.

For this reason, and because of the frequent draws on the "Pick Me Up" (what usually occupied those jugs) and subtle references to what's best left between a husband and a wife, the book is best read by adults or older teens. Some parents may choose to read aloud parts of the book, and other parents may decide it's right fine for their more mature youngsters to read by themselves.

What is clear as spring water is that we sure haven't heard the last of Juggin Joe and his misadventures. We're all going to be waiting for the next installment, Mr. Yakel.

The Book

Lulu Press
May 2005
Trade Paperback
Nonfiction / Humor Age Group: Some teens and adult
More at Publisher's site

The Reviewer

Janie Franz
Reviewed 2006
NOTE: Reviewer Janie Franz is the author of Freelance Writing: Itís a Business, Stupid!, Relaxation Techniques for Children, Relaxation Techniques for Adults; Co-author of The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book and The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book. Coming Soon: The Ultimate Wedding Workbook, Get Rich on Love, and Sacred Breath (a sound recording of relaxation meditations).
© 2006