The Jolly Mon
Caribbean sunlight shines through the pages of this picture book adventure. Sea green and blue color the illustrations, which strengthen and carry a good-natured but rambling tale in bedtime story tradition. Jolly Mon, a fisherman gifted with extraordinary singing talent, finds a magic guitar and accepts its instructions to share the happiness of his music with other islands.
Jolly Mon is neither individual nor active enough to make readers care for him, even when he is menaced by fierce pirates led by One-Eyed Rosy. Jolly Mon is a passive protagonist: he is given a guitar and boat; he is rescued by a dolphin; he is chosen to be king. He earns nothing by his own effort, and this lack of struggle weakens the story.
The score and lyrics to Buffet’s ballad Jolly Mon Sings summarize the narrative. Its five verses have an economy, grace, and excitement the longer narrative lacks. The book has strong, imaginative illustrations, acrylic paintings reproduced on fine paper, which elementary-school-age children, especially those from the Caribbean area, will enjoy.
- School Library Journal