Jack and the Bean Tree

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
K-Gr 5 While not entirely successful, Haley's Jack and the Bean Tree is more than a good try. Her lively retelling has illustrations to matchenergetic paintings with movement and humor. This retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk has a Southern Appalachian air. Haley uses the device of Poppyseed, a storyteller, to frame the opening and closing of her tale. Poppyseed goes on for two pages about how she became a ``storytellin' woman'' before she finally gets on with it, and the delay does not add to the story, but the tale itself moves along rapidly. There are some variations on the traditional motifs. A disconcerting note is Matilda, the giant's wife, telling Jack that her husband is accusing the other giants of theft. The inclusion of a community of giants in Haley's ``skyland'' is extraneous and jarring. After stealing a tablecloth that lays a feast on command, and a banty hen that lays golden eggs, Jack returns to the giant's castle for his third raid. He steals the giant's singing harp, ties the giant's laces together (he sleeps in his shoes?), flees the homicidal Ephidophilus, chops down the bean tree, and everyone lives happily ever afterexcept Ephidophilus, who is a grease spot, and Matilda, who is a widow. The attempt at regional dialect sometimes falls into the precious, as does the device of Poppyseed. There is one double-page, vertical spread of the giant climbing down the bean treethere is no text on these pages, and they interrupt the narrative at a climactic momentbut it is such an exciting visual it is easily justified. Haley's paintings have enormous power, almost surging off the pages, and lush greens and connecting foliage provide continuity throughout. Janice M. Del Negro, Chicago Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517557174
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/1986
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years

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