Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk

by Richard Walker, Niamh Sharkey
     
 

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One day, when they have no food left, Jack's mom sends him to market to sell Daisy the cow. On the way, Jack bumps into a funny little man wearing a big, baggy jacket with big, baggy pockets. In the pockets lie six bewitched beans. The funny little man has lost the instructions for them, but Jack doesn't mind. There is nothing that he loves better than magic, so,

Overview

One day, when they have no food left, Jack's mom sends him to market to sell Daisy the cow. On the way, Jack bumps into a funny little man wearing a big, baggy jacket with big, baggy pockets. In the pockets lie six bewitched beans. The funny little man has lost the instructions for them, but Jack doesn't mind. There is nothing that he loves better than magic, so, smelling adventure in the air, he swaps Daisy for the beans and proudly sets off home....

Richard Walker's gleeful retelling of this much-loved fairy tale dances hand-in-hand with Niamh Sharkey's offbeat, outlandish and original artwork, making this story one that is sure to become a hot favorite with a new generation of children.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like Beneduce and Spirin in their adaptation of this staple (reviewed above), Walker (The Barefoot Book of Pirates) and Sharkey (The Gigantic Turnip) try to mediate its violence. But where Beneduce and Spirin lessen the impact of the violence by providing Jack with a motive, Walker and Sharkey soften the tale itself. The plot follows tradition; the big change comes in the giant's refrain, now "Fee, fi, fo, fum! I smell the blood of a stinky man!" The giant speaks these words just once, rather than in a terror-heightening sequence, and he certainly never threatens to grind Jack's bones to make his bread. Having removed much of the suspense, the text proceeds to a tepid conclusion in which Jack uses the stalk to catapult his foe "into space.... And, as far as I know, he's still there." Sharkey, working in semitransparent earth-tone oils, envisions the giant as a flat-headed Frankenstein with an oversize jaw and a serrated underbite, and Jack as an elfin type with an eggshell-white face and a cranberry-red jester's cap. It's a contemporary, puckish look, one that tells the audience not to take the story too seriously. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Jack is up to his same old tricks. Not the ambitious type, he tries to find the easy way out when his mother sends him to town to sell the family cow for money to buy food. Stopped by a mysterious, odd, little man, Jack is easily persuaded to give up the cow for six bewitched beans. Loving an adventure, Jack sets forth energetically with the beans in his pocket and the chance to do something magical with his new trade. This much-loved classic is a delight to read over and over again. These quirky, offbeat illustrations add a new punch to the storyline. The characters will delight you with their odd shaped bodies and simple expressions. It would make a great addition to any collection. 1999, Barefoot Books, Ages 4 to 8, $16.95. Reviewer: Sharon Tolle
Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This retelling of the English folktale departs in many ways from the well-known version by Joseph Jacobs, and although Walker tells a consistent and humorous story, it is ultimately devoid of much of the suspense and characterization of the original. Jack trades his cow to a strange man for six magic beans, for which he's "lost the instructions." They do what readers expect them to, and Jack climbs the beanstalk to a castle inhabited by a giant and a "little old woman." In a single visit, the boy steals a sack of gold, taking along the golden-egg-laying goose and the little old lady because they ask to come, and the singing harp that gives him away. At the bottom, he uses the rope that he used to lower the bag of gold (a complicated addition to the plot) to catapult the giant into outer space. Jacobs's Jack was not altogether a good child-but the giant was many times worse, and it took a devious mind like Jack's to get the better of him. Walker's Jack is very nice, but lacks motivation and is not very interesting. The book is nicely designed, and Sharkey's oil-and-gesso illustrations in a muted palette are well composed, but the figures (with big heads and feet, and dot-and-line faces) are flat and expressionless. Steven Kellogg's illustrated retelling (Morrow, 1991) is still available for those who need a picture-book version of the tale; this one is pretty but unsatisfying. Think twice before you trade your cow for it.
Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books
Storyteller Richard Walker stays close to tradition by departing from it. Careening off classic written versions of Jack and the Beanstalk, Walker regales his readers with an energetic, far from literary retelling.
Kirkus Reviews
Walker's modernized retelling of Jack's adventure up the beanstalk makes a fine counterpoint to the Beneduce/Spirin collaboration (see review, above); it's been tamed and trimmed to a jaunty pace and filled with lively humor. All of the standard elements are present: Jack, his mother, the cow, the beans. There have been changes, however, e.g., Jack has lost his nationality, with blood that no longer smells of an Englishman. The objects of his desire — the sack of gold, the goose, and the harp — are hauled away in one clean sweep, rather than a daring, maturing series of raids. He also takes the old crone who lives with the giant, adding a touch of virtue. Finally, the beanstalk is not chopped down, but used as a catapult to hurl the giant into galactic orbit. Thus beveled and streamlined, the tale has lost some of its pungency, but, with artwork that has the color quality of old frescoes, and characters full of personality (even with dots for eyes), this remains a rousing adventure. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781841481586
Publisher:
Barefoot Books
Publication date:
03/01/2002
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
8.52(w) x 10.26(h) x 0.13(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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