I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Friday, March 24, 2006


The Legend of Juggin Joe
Joseph Yakel
Lulu Press, Morrisonville, NC
Publisher’s website:
Author’s website:
Genre: Fiction/Humor
ISBN: 1411625889, $10.25, 124 pp, 2005

Are you a fan of Mark Twain? Do you enjoy reading books written in the vernacular of different cultures or regional areas? If you do, you just might want to try this little book.

The story is about Joe, the 10th child of Doc and Isabel Jeckel's 11 children, who all live in the Heldeberg Mountains around Westerlo, upstate New York. Joe was thought to be a bit touched until his talent to make beautiful music with his jug ‘Isabel’ surfaced when he was sixteen years old. Joe and Florentine Sheppard fell in love at an early age, but Parson Sheppard, her father, forbade them to have any contact. I don’t want to tell you the whole story, but I do need to include some of the excerpts which had tears runnin' down by cheeks for the last half hour of the book (not tears of sadness but for the beauty of heart-felt honesty, community and family) and to illustrate what the author calls ‘country-speak’ dialogue, the hooker for those so inclined.

Parson said, "Fer a long time, muh heart wuz hardened ‘gainst yah Joe, an’ I done muh best tah keep yah an’ Florentine parted. I could see the feelins yeh two young’uns had wellin up inside. Quite honestly Joe, finding’ yah an’ Florentine tahgether after yer sister Sarah’s weddin, well, it done caught me off’n muh guard, an’ scairt me at the same time." Lookin over tah Florentine, he said, "Muh reaction wuz tah pertect her the best I thought tah do. I suppose I thought if'n I could jes’ keep yah apart long ‘nuff, yer feelins would change fer one ‘nother, an’ thins would be alright. . . Now, I cain’t use that pertection as an excuse–Lord knows yer maw an’ pap done raised yah right," he said as he looked over tah Joe's folks.

"I know that Florentine an’ yah didn’a do nuthin wrong Joe, but I come down hard on yah–too awful hard, lookin back on it, ‘specially as a man who preaches the Good Word tah all these folks ever Sunday.". . .

"Fer years I come between yah both, an’ took away yer happiness, an’ lessened that ah yer families an’ friends." Lookin at both ah them, the Parson said, "I wronged yah Joe, an’ I wronged yah Florentine. I’m sorry, an’ I’ll never let muh ire come between yah ‘gain. I’m makin muh change, here an’ now, if’n yah’ll allow it." Lookin tah each ah ‘em, he offered, "I’d like tah have yer forgiveness Joe, an’ Florentine, an’ Doc an’ Isabel, if yah can find it in yer hearts after how I treated yah."

After he said his piece, the Parson stood there quiet. The whole ah the congregation wuz stunned an’ silent, theys minds reelin’ with what they jes’ heard. The Parson done opened up an’ bared his heart an’ soul fer ever last one ah us tah behold, an’ the effect wuz overwhelmin’. Jaws wuz a hangin on ‘bout ever livin body in the place.

By now, I managed tah look on over tah where Florentine wuz a settin, an’ could see she wuz a weepin in silence. Up ahead ah me, Isabel had ‘er head leanin on Doc’s shoulder, an’ I could see she wuz shudderin as well.

An’ then, Joe stood up from his spot, an’ come on out intah the main aisle. He took a couple ah steps toward the Alter where the Parson wuz standin, an’ put out his hands.

I’m ‘fraid if’n yuh want tah know what Joe said, yah’ll just have tah put out $10.25 to buy the dang book.

The cover by Jonathan Fesmire is particularly attractive and unique. I love the cute frog hangin' out of Joe's back pocket on the back cover. There are little drawings throughout the book which add to the humor, and it's very clear that this book was a true labor of love, with much attention to detail.

Joseph Yakel provides us with some autobiographical information about himself. He did grow up in the Heldeberg Mountains, is a retired Federal Army Chief Warrant Officer, and has written two books about genealogy, and numerous articles on electronic technology, military history and leadership. The Legend of Juggin Joe is his first "situational humor" book, and if it’s at all autobiographical . . . well, then I say, "Bless your sweet soul, Joe."

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - March 24, 2006 - Copyright


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