AppLit Home Jack Tales in AppLit's Annotated Index of Folktales Tina L. Hanlon
"Jack and the Northwest Wind"

Chase, Richard. "Jack and the North West Wind." The Jack Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1943, pp. 47-57.  With two illustrations by Berkeley Williams, Jr. Although he never succeeds in stopping the cold wind, on Jack's quest he gains, loses, and regains a magic tablecloth, a rooster that lays golden eggs, and a magic club that will break up firewood. He punishes "rowdy boys" who steal from him by having the club break up their whole house. Jack and his mother live comfortably with these luxuries in the end. Chase identifies the tale as type 563, The Table, the Ass, and the Stick, with notes on variants in Europe and America, including specific references to Caribbean African American versions.

Hicks, Ray and Lynn Salsi. "Jack and the North-West Wind." In The Jack Tales. Illus. Owen Smith. New York: Calloway, 2000. Jack hopes in vain to stop the cold wind by stuffing his cap in a hole where the wind comes out. The plot is similar to Chase's except Jack's mother does not warn that one can't find the wind. Smith's illustrations in earth tones incorporate images of barren trees blowing in the cold wind. 

"Jack and the Northwest Wind." Told by Ray Hicks on CD in The Jack Tales, 2000.

"Jack and the North West Wind." In Isobel Gordon Carter. "Mountain White Folk-Lore: Tales from the Southern Blue Ridge." Journal of American Folklore 38 (1925): pp. 340-74 (this tale on pp. 363-65). A landmark article containing Jack tales told by Jane Hicks Gentry (1863-1925), recorded by Carter in 1923. Carter comments on the decline of storytelling among mountain families who used to know them better, although they had not been recorded as ballads had. Jack has an uncle in the northwest who gives him a rooster and says he can't defeat the wind. He also acquires a sword and a club and is rich in the end. Available online through library services such as JSTOR.

Haley, Gail E. "Jack and the Northwest Wind." In Mountain Jack Tales. New York: Dutton, 1992, pp. 9-19. Haley's wood engraving shows the giant face of the Northwest Wind blowing on the struggling characters. The plot is similar to Chase's. Jack's mother says he can't make it as far as where the Northwest wind lives, but she can't argue with him. An old man chopping wood says no one can stop the wind before spring. Jack encounters and eventually punishes some "rowdy boys," making them promise not to rob travelers again. The end reminds us that the old man said "it's not a good thing for folks to go messing 'round with the natural seasons." See Appalachian Folktale Collections A-J for more details on Haley's book of Jack tales and Muncimeg.

"Jack and the Northwest Wind." In Kindt, Carol Lee and Linda Rockwell High. Once Upon a Mountain Tale: Eight Jack and Grandfather Tales. Lakeland, TN: Memphis Musicraft Publications, 1995. Accompanied by music and drawings with which children can make puppets and backdrops.

Torrence, Jackie. Mountain Magic Jack Tales I. Chicago Earwig Music, 1984. Audiobook on tape. Includes "Jack and the Northwest Wind." "Jack and the Three Sillies," "Jack and the King's New Ground." Mountain Magic Jack Tales II, produced at the same time, contains "Soldier Jack" and "Jack Goes Out to Seek His Fortune." Both sets are included in a four-cassette set Jackie Torrence Tells Stories for Children. Chicago: Weston Woods, 1984, with Brer Rabbit stories and other classic tales for children (from The Story Lady recording, above), including "Jack and the Varmints" and "Kate the Bell Witch of Tennessee."

"Jack and the Northwest Wind." Told by Jackie Torrence in Tales of Fools and Wise Folk. Cassette tape. Jonesborough, TN: National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling, National Storytelling Press, and August House Publishers, 1991. c. 50 min. "In these classic tales, the honest win rewards while the evil do themselves in, rubes get the best of Ph.D.'s, and a poor young adventurer finds a helpmate with powerful magic" (WorldCat). Recorded live at the National Storytelling Festival. The seven tales by different storytellers also include "Old Dry Frye" told by Barbara Freeman. 

Hall, Francie. Appalachian ABCs. Illus. Kent Oehm. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1998. Among other folkways and arts, this alphabet book's short verse texts include "J is for Jack Tales. Once when a mighty North Wind rose/Jack and his mother nearly froze." Includes a full-page pastel portrait of Jack, a young man in overalls and hat, surrounded by a Jack in the Pulpit border, facing a silhouette of a storyteller with children and dog. See cover and comments at Overmountain Press or at Tene's Treasures online Appalachian bookstore.

See also:

McKissack, Patricia C. Mirandy and Brother Wind. Illus. Jerry Pinkney. Based on McKissack's grandparents' experience of winning a cakewalk (an African American dance tradition) as teenagers, this story tells of a young girl at the beginning of the twentieth century who would like Brother Wind to be her partner at the cakewalk. Her mother tells of an old saying about being able to control the wind if you can catch him, but Grandmama tells her that no one can catch Brother Wind, who is free. Mirandy uses folk practices suggested by different people, including a conjure woman, but the lively spring wind always eludes her. At the dance, she ends up winning the junior cakewalk with Ezel, a boy the others made fun of. Grandmama laughs at "them chullin . . . dancing with the Wind!" Brother Wind is depicted as a well-dressed "high-steppin'" man in top hat and flowing cape. While McKissack herself is from east of the mountains in Tennessee and the dust cover refers only to Pinkney's "rich, eye-catching watercolors of the rural South," the community of Ridgetop in the story is painted as a mountain setting. The tale is like "Jack and the Northwest Wind" with its emphasis on the futility of catching the wind. In both stories, people warn that the wind can't be caught, but Mirandy's wind is a playful spring visitor stirring up life in a lively young girl, not a freezing antagonist.

Another unusual and wonderful folktale about the weather and environment is "Nine Cat Tails." In Roberts, Leonard (collector). Old Greasybeard: Tales From the Cumberland GapIllus. Leonard Epstein. Detroit: Folklore Associates, 1969. Rpt. Pikeville, KY: Pikeville College Press, 1980. pp. 138-40. A widow with three children moves around their valley because of harsh weather conditions. The moon appears before her and tells her how to get a place that is not too hot or cold, not dark, with not too much wind, and not too much or too little overgrowth. The woman uses moondust the moon gives her to catch nine cats who need their tails back. They attack a witch who had stolen them and the widow recovers their tails from the seam of the witch's petticoat, as the moon had instructed. They leave the witch for dead and break the spell she had put on the elements. The widow finds her children "playing in the flowers. The darkness had disappeared and the spell over the valley was broken. The widder woman lived there with her chillern ever after." Roberts could trace this tale to no known tale type or motif, but his Knox County informant in 1957 had heard it from her grandmother, who was born about 1835.

Rogers, Sally. "Sowing Seeds of Love for Traditional Music: An Interview with Jean Ritchie." From Winter 2003 issue of Pass It On! The Journal of The Children's Music Network. Reprinted in network's web site, with photos. Includes discussion of ballad-singing and storytelling in Ritchie's family, with mention of "Jack and the Northwest Wind."

Compare with:

"The Lad Who Went to the North Wind." In this Norse tale, a poor widow's only son does reach the North Wind and talk to it, seeking restitution for the loss of meal that the wind blew out of his hands. The wind gives him the magic objects (cloth, ram that produces gold, and stick that takes commands), which are stolen in turn until the lad uses the stick to beat his thieving landlord. The end simply says the lad "went home" and he "got his rights for the meal he had lost." Translation by George Webbe Dasent is reprinted at Rick Walton's Online Library.

Phelan, Matt. The Storm in the Barn. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2009. In his first graphic novel, Phelan named the protagonist Jack after Appalachian Jack Tales. Phelan observed that in Richard Chase's Jack Tales, "There's one story called Jack and the North West Wind so I knew there was a precedent for weather-based tales." A storekeeper named Ernie, who is presumed to have some Appalachian ancestry, has imperfect memory of the tales but tells Jack tales to bolster Jack's confidence. Ernie refers to tales such as "The King of the West Wind" and "Jack and the King of the Blizzard," and tells one about "the time that boy Jack whupped the two-headed King of the Northeast Winds," which is illustrated in this text and resembles "Jack and the Giants" tales (pp. 51-57). The story also contains allusions to The Wizard of Oz and comic book heroes. (See interview "Matt Phelan Captures a 'Storm in the Barn'" by Alex Dueben at Comic Book Resources.) Dueben describes the story as "a tall tale set in that mythic America populated by Ichabod Crane, Dorothy Gale, Paul Bunyan and many others," along with "historical details." Summary: "In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father's failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of 'dust dementia' would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot's abandoned barn - a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it's hard to trust what you see with your own eyes, and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes." See also Phelan's comments on this story as a Jack Tale, etc. after it won the 2010 Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction, at Notes from the Horn Book, vol. 3, no. 2, February 2010.

These European tales contain the series of magic acquisitions, but not the quest to control the wind:

Jacobs, Joseph. "The Ass, the Table, and the Stick." English Fairy Tales. 3rd ed. 1898. Rpt. New York: Dover, 1967. pp. 206–10. Jack leaves home unhappy with ill treatment by his father. He works for a year, earning an ass that drops money from its mouth, but it is stolen. In order to win his sweetheart's father's approval, Jack has another adventure in which he acquires a magic table and stick, using the latter to punish the innkeeper who steals his ass and table. When Jack returns rich and says he'll marry the richest girl, all the girls in town line up, but he still chooses his poor sweetheart; he has his stick knock the others on the head and gives their money to his sweetheart to make her the richest. Jacobs gives detailed notes on sources and interpretations. Reprinted at Rick Walton's Online Library.

Grimm Brothers, Tale no. 36, "The Magic Table, the Golden Donkey, and the Club in the Sack," available in many editions. It is called "The Wishing-Table, the Gold Ass and the Cudgel in the Sack" in the online version of Margaret Hunt's translation of Grimms' 1884 edition.

Kimmel, Eric A. The Magic Dreidels: A Hanukkah Story. Illus. Katya Krenina. New York: Viking, 1996. A retelling of "The Magic Table, the Golden Donkey, and the Club in the Sack," with a Hanukkah setting. Jacob encounters a goblin when he tries to retrieve his dreidel from the bottom of a well.

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