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The Several Lives of Orphan Jack

Written by Sarah Ellis

Illustrated by Bruno St-Aubin

  • 88 Pages
  • 9780888996183
  • 8.400" x 5.500"
  • Reading age from 7 to 10
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Fairy Tales & Folklore / Single Title
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Family / Orphans & Foster Homes
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Humorous Stories


Publication Date July 26, 2004

Winner of the Mr. Christie's Book Award and the IODE Violet Downey Book Award

For young Jack, life is tough at the Opportunities School for Orphans. But Jack is good at staying out of trouble. He has skipped over trouble, danced around trouble, slid under trouble, melted away from trouble, talked his way out of trouble and slipped between two close troubles like a cat through a picket fence.

When Jack turns twelve, he is given the biggest opportunity of all, but suddenly his life is nothing but trouble. Still, he is a clever and resilient boy, and eventually he makes his way into the big world. Jack is rich in ideas, and soon he finds there is a place for an enterprising boy who has whims, concepts, plans, opinions, impressions, notions and fancies to spare.

In the tradition of Natalie Babbitt, Sarah Ellis brings her quirky sense of humor and imagination to bear in this witty, warm fable. Bruno St-Aubin's evocative black-and-white illustrations capture perfectly the dreadful Schoolmaster Bane, the crowlike accountant Mr. Ledger, Lou the skinny bun merchant, and Christabel, the miller's little daughter.

Winner of the IODE Violet Downey Book Award 2004

Winner of the Mr. Christie's Book Award 2004

Short-listed for the CLA Book of the Year for Children Award 2004

Short-listed for the Hackmatack Award 2005

Short-listed for the Governor General's Literary Awards: Text 2003

Long-listed for the Chocolate Lily Award 2004

Long-listed for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award 2004

Long-listed for the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize 2004

Selected for the CCBC Our Choice (Starred Selection) 2004

Selected for the Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice 2004


Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is the author of sixteen books for young readers, including The Baby Project and Odd Man Out. She has won the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Violet Downey Book Award, the Governor General’s Award, the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Her books have been translated into French, Spanish, Danish, Chinese and Japanese. She is a masthead reviewer for the Horn Book Magazine and was recently writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library.

In 2013 Sarah was nominated for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, children’s literature’s richest prize. She was also honored with the 2013 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.

Sarah teaches in the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Bruno St-Aubin
Bruno St-Aubin is one of Canada's most renowned children's book illustrators and to date has written or illustrated over 130 picture books and novels.


Star Review

"Ellis has created a small gem here, with messages about following your heart tucked into the sentences, phrases, thoughts, and ideas that she seamlessly weaves together." Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Star Review

"Told with the outsize zest of a tall tale, this vibrant, well-crafted novel starts strong and gets even better." Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

"[An] agile tale about wanderlust and the power of words. Ellis demonstrates through her creative - and often surprising - use of metaphor that an active imagination and rich vocabulary are a healthy combination." Horn Book

"...there is real strength in Ellis's turns of phrase, use of imagery, and alliteration, and in showing readers the power of words and ideas to liberate the imagination." School Library Journal

"The playfulness of this picaresque short novel is utterly engaging. Words, words and more words, alliterative pairs of words like villains and volumes, scholars and scoundrels, toffee and tyrants, fall in torrents from the pages..." Globe and Mail

"This special book is filled with often humorous and extraordinarily rich descriptive prose that is always a pleasure to read and full of surprises." Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews