From the Publisher
“...the dramatic and immediate images and the realistic setting make this an intriguing new "Jack" for storytimes as well as a fresh offering for fairy-tale units.” BCCB
“Images of a huge beanstalk superimposed on a brick apartment building; stylized blackbirds flying around the giant's castle; small Jack on hands and knees with large brush in hand amidst a pile of huge dirty dishes are …memorable…” SLJ
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The Jack in this version of Jack and the Beanstalk is contemporary. The beans he plants are a payment, instead of money, for doing chores for a neighbor. Jack is disappointed and skeptical, but he plants them as instructed. The resulting beanstalk makes him "suspect that something wonderful is happening." Climbing high, Jack is lured into a castle by the smell of freshly baked cookies. The giant and his wife are also contemporary characters. The story varies a bit from the usual here, missing some of the well-known chants, but it includes the hen that lays the golden eggs. Jack snatches it and runs away, followed down the vine by the angry giant and his wife. The ending has a surprising twist. The modernity of this version is clear in the photography used to produce the jacket and cover image of Jack climbing a huge beanstalk that is backed by a brick wall. There is a crisp quality to the illustrations of Jack's actions and the castle setting in the clouds, as well as the comic behavior of the giant couple. The mundane setting of a city sidewalk and apartment house here changes the drama of the classic tale. The illustrations are photo-collage; the artist uses Adobe Photoshop "to color-correct and manipulate 35-mm digital photographs and line drawings." The black birds that fly in and out add a sense of mystery, as do the multicolored "seeds" in a jar and then planted on the double pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Young Jack, a modern boy, is given colored beans as payment for doing some chores for his neighbor, Mrs. M. He plants them right away, and by noon the next day, there is a beanstalk outside his window that disappears into the clouds. Jack climbs high above the city, finds a castle, a giant, his wife, and a hen that lays golden eggs. The giant orders his wife to set Jack to doing chores. When she finally leaves him alone, he grabs the hen, climbs down the beanstalk, finds his father's saw, and cuts the huge stem until it snaps. On the ground, the giant and his wife turn into Mrs. M's brother and sister-in-law, who tell the boy that his wishes for wealth "got me and my wife stuck up in the clouds." Crews's contemporization of this familiar tale, featuring a multicultural cast, is accompanied by clear, full-page digital Adobe Photoshop-enhanced color photos. Elements of the original story—a golden harp; a pile of gold coins—are visible in the playful pictures. Images of a huge beanstalk superimposed on a brick apartment building; stylized blackbirds flying around the giant's castle; small Jack on hands and knees with large brush in hand amidst a pile of huge dirty dishes are more memorable than the retelling itself or its message.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
A contemporary urban version of the ancient tale of beans and boy, with spiky parts rounded off.
This Jack gets a jar of brightly colored beans for doing chores for his neighbor, and he plants them beneath his bedroom window right away. Overnight, it grows into a splendid leafy ladder up the side of his apartment building, and after checking it for sturdiness Jack climbs up until he can see the whole city ("WOW!"). Above the clouds, the scent of chocolate-chip cookies lures him to a castle, where he finds a giant admiring himself while his giant wife gives him a pedicure ("I look good. I smell good"). The giants immediately put Jack to work, and after a long day he races down the beanstalk with the golden-egg-laying hen under his arm. When he chops down the stalk, giant and wife tumble down—and lo! They were under a curse, which Jack has broken, and they are just ordinary-sized folk. The images are quite keen, photographs and the occasional line drawing manipulated and layered to shape the story. Mrs. Giant has a fabulous '50s-print apron with roosters and pots, as well as lots of jewelry, and Mr. struts in boots and vest, with a red bandanna in his pocket.
Crews' fans will be delighted; others will be drawn in by the nifty mix of folktale and photo-collage. (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-9)