Tale of Janek. A story for a very active boy who likes to challenge others and gets into trouble very often – request from Rita.


The Tale of Janek  

‘Always in Trouble’

Janek lived in the frozen north. For eight months of the year the ground beneath his feet was solid, hard and frozen. He had a sister called Sylvie. His mother and father kept the family alive by following the herds of caribou – a kind of deer from which they obtained meat and hide. Janek’s father had a very loud voice. He could shout across the frozen ground. His voice seemed to carry for miles. Janek loved to go out with his father to check on the deer. They usually went on foot, using short flat skis and ski poles.  Janek was the sort of boy who always wanted to try to make things happen. He was never satisfied with things as they were. He liked to imagine what would happen if he did this or that and often those things annoyed his parents. When they went to count the herd, Janek’s father always pulled a little sled which had grass nuts in a sack. With these he could tempt the caribou to come closer so that he could inspect them one by one to check for example if the females were pregnant or are if any were lame or wounded. He had to make hard decisions about weak deer. They were a burden to the herd and had to be culled. He didn’t like to do it, but he would shoot sick deer. He would perhaps skin them taking the hide if it was good enough but he always left the carcass for the wild animals to dispose of. He realised that if the wolves were eating carcasses from the culled deer they would not be killing the healthy young deer.

Janek was fascinated by his father’s gun. He was not allowed to touch it as he had shown himself to be a careless lad who could not be relied upon to take care of valuable equipment. He had borrowed his father’s tools and left them out only to be buried by the next fall of snow and not found again until the spring when they re-appeared rusty and useless. He did not listen carefully to instructions when people were explaining things to him because he always thought he knew how to do things even when he didn’t. Time proved again and again that he had not listened and that he did not know what he was doing. But Janek was not one to learn from his mistakes.

One day Janek’s friend came to stay for the weekend. Janek wanted to impress the lad. His father had gone off to deal with some problem in the village. Janek decided he would show his friend how good he was with a gun. Now Janek had never actually used the gun. He had watched his father use it and he thought it would be very easy to shoot down some tin cans that he set up on a low wall outside the family home.

He got his friend to line the cans up in a row and to stand back.

“Bet I can knock them all down,” said he.

Janek eyed along the sight of the gun and pulled the trigger. The gun went off with an almighty crack. It jolted back against his shoulder and hit him very hard on the top of his arm. The pain was terrible. Janek dropped the gun on the ground. He couldn’t hold it any longer. His arm was hanging down at a strange angle.

“I’ll get your mother!” shouted his friend disappearing out of sight. Janek felt faint. The pain was terrific. He managed to walk towards the house a little way then his legs crumpled beneath him.  He fell to the ground.

Janek’s mother came rushing out of the house. “Whatever have you done this time?” she cried in a voice both worried and exasperated. “Oh, you’ve dislocated your shoulder, how did you do that?”  But Janek didn’t speak. He didn’t want to tell his mother about this latest escapade. Firing the gun was strictly forbidden to him.

His mother used the radio to speak to the flying doctor. Three painful hours later a helicopter landed in Janek’s field. The doctor asked Janek how he had dislocated his shoulder. “I fell on it,” Janek lied. The doctor gave his shoulder bone a sudden painful push. Janek felt the joint click back into place. The doctor disappeared very quickly as once again the skies were leaden with heavy snow. That night the snow fell again. Janek’s father was unable to find his gun. The boy was too scared to tell him what had happened to it. For weeks the gun was missing, hidden beneath the snow. Its well oiled parts had become dull and rusty. Sick animals limped along with the herd. The Wolves took three young caribou that spring. The gun was never the same again. Janek’s father gradually pieced together the story and felt angry, ashamed that his son was a liar.

Janek’s family went to live in the nearby town. His father was so disheartened by the bad behaviour of his son, whom he could not trust to tell him the truth or to be safe or careful with anything. His father went off for several months in the year taking Janek’s sister Sylvie with him instead of his son. He could trust Sylvie. He said that she wouldn’t do stupid things and get herself and other people into trouble.

Janek felt ashamed of himself. It seemed to him that he had two voices speaking to him and he had always listened to the one which suggested he that he did stupid things. Gradually as he got older Janek started to pay attention to his other voice – the more sensible one which knew what the right thing to do was. As he grew older he did not hear his father’s angry voice shouting at him from a great distance because there was no longer any need for it.  His father had noticed that Janek’s behaviour was better.

Janek had started to listen to his own voice of reason and felt much happier in himself as a result. He did know how to behave well after all. He could make the right decisions. He wasn’t stupid. He could be trusted.


Did the story remind you of anything in your life? What?

What was the result of Janek showing off to his friend?

Can you think of a time when you did things without thinking about what damage you might cause?

Do you sometimes feel as if you have a sensible voice and a stupid voice both telling you what to do, inside your head?  Which voice do you listen to? 

How would you advise your friend who kept getting into trouble?