A Book Leapt Off the Library Shelf

A bookish observation

The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow” 1st Edition, by AJ Mackinnon, practically leapt off the shelf into my hands. It was during one of my regular visits to the local library. There it was, in the travel genre section.

I skimmed the first page of the first chapter, as is my habit when choosing a book. Three amusing sentences bounced off the page. The first sentence that got me, is as follows, ” It was in many ways purely an accident that it happened at all.” The next was, “I have many heroes … mostly drawn from the world of children’s literature . . . the White Queen who made it her daily habit to believe six impossible things before breakfast . . . Dr Dolittle who sailed away in a ship with his monkey and his parrot, his pig and his duck, and bumped into Africa.” Hmmm, this looks good. So far the book measured up, so a quick read of the blurb at the back of the book. It still held my interest. Into my “book bag” it went.

Once home, I gave the book my serious focus. I had potentially four books to read plus others that were lying around in various places, not quite finished. So now Sandy’s book had to pass a more rigorous test as it had lots of competition for my valuable reading time.

The ambiance of a book is very important to me. The cover, the paper, the font and the text layout all assist, psychologically, to lead me into the book. The ambiance of the book did not measure up. (This was the first edition, I’ve heard that the 2nd Edition has a completely different “feel”.) The text was small and close to the edges of the page. The layout of the page was not pleasing to the eye. Chapter headings were underlined similar to a typed draft of an essay. The paper was your usual paperback quality, poor. The cover was practical more than imaginative. However the photograph did help me get an idea of the size, colour and shape of Sandy (AJ) Mackinnon’s boat.

Using my psychological idiosyncratic method for choosing a books I decided that there were more positive than negative points so I again read the Foreword by David Du Croz, Sandy Mackinnons’ former boss and headmaster at Ellesmere College. Interesting. Another ambient barrier loomed, the paragraphs in the Foreword were too long making comprehension difficult, particularly when my eyes are sore, the television is invading my mind and dinner is on the table. But I persisted. Something was telling me I would be rewarded if I tried a little harder to access the book. Tenacity wins out every time.

David Du Croz’s description of Sandy Mackinnon, in the Foreword, included the fact that Sandy had an “imaginative originality . . . which leads to the unexpected and makes things happen differently. He described him as a philosopher, a poet, an artist and a dramatist with creative urges along with a free spirit. This told me the book would be a good read. I haven’t been disappointed.

Not many books make me laugh out loud but I had two real belly laughs before I was through the first chapter.

Read it, it’s good.