Jacques is a woodcutter who spends each winter cutting trees in the
forest. His wife, Finette, is lonely, until the seigneur starts visiting
her and feasting on her delicious meals. When Jacques asks Finette to
ask the seigneur to stop coming, Finette pretends to have a toothache
and sends Jacques all the way to town for wine to cure it. On the way
he meets a pedlar who devises a scheme to help Jacques catch the seigneur
visiting his wife.
Usually, in an illustrated folktale like this one, the words come before
the pictures. In this book, the pictures came first. My friend Ann Blades
did the charming watercolours for this story when it was published in
another version called JACQUES THE WOODCUTTER. When that book went out
of print, Ann's publisher asked me to write a new version of it. It
was great fun to do!
I read many versions of the story in English and (with the help of a
dictionary) in French. The only part I made up entirely were the songs.
Then I tried to match the words exactly to each picture.
book has sometimes been criticized for being unsuitable for children.
I don't find that a problem. Kids will understand the real meaning
behind the story when they are old enough to, and until then they
will simply enjoy a rollicking tale. And, as in all good folk tales,
the weak characters - Finette and the seigneur - learn their lesson
and all ends happily.