Jack Outwits the Giants

Overview

"Back some time ago in Appalachia, when folks still had to worry about giants and unicorns and such, there lived a boy named Jack."

Jack's caught in a downpour one day and finds a farmhouse in which to spend the night. But there's something funny about the big giant-woman and the big two-headed giant-man who own the place. What are they up to?

How Jack outwits those big old giants and saves his own hide is the heart of this funny tall tale from...

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Overview

"Back some time ago in Appalachia, when folks still had to worry about giants and unicorns and such, there lived a boy named Jack."

Jack's caught in a downpour one day and finds a farmhouse in which to spend the night. But there's something funny about the big giant-woman and the big two-headed giant-man who own the place. What are they up to?

How Jack outwits those big old giants and saves his own hide is the heart of this funny tall tale from the award-winning creator of Fearless Jack.

In this Appalachian folktale, Jack outwits two giants who want fresh meat for breakfast.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Down-home storytelling and comic pictures of silly giants enliven Johnson's (Fearless Jack) newest tale of the Appalachian boy-hero Jack. Trapped by a two-headed giant who threatens to fry him for breakfast, Jack outwits the foolish behemoth and his wife with a series of tricks, from squeezing milk from a stone (he has concealed a milkweed pod in his hand) to fibbing about a sheriff's posse that is coming to search for them ("I told you we shouldn't of eat them two deputies," the giant's wife wails. "Now we're in for it!"). Johnson's paintings make hay with the warts and snaggle-teeth of the giant's two faces ("both of 'em mud-fence ugly") as he licks his lips and tries to best the visitor introduced as "tender young Jack." The boy's trusty hound hovers in the background, his expressive face a lively barometer of the mood. The climactic illustrations show Jack convincing the two giants to hide down in the well, then kicking up "the awfullest ruckus you ever heard" to imitate the sound of the approaching posse; in the end, Jack cuts the bucket rope with a handy ax. This snappy story delivers a giant-size good time. Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
On a dark and stormy night Jack was forced to take shelter in a nearby farmhouse. Imagine his surprise at meeting a barn loft-sized woman and her two-headed, "mud-fence ugly" husband. Weary of eating cornmeal mush, the two giants cooked up a plot to enrich their diet with Jack! Although they were whispering, giants' whispers sounded like "hog calls" to boys. Jack hid while the giant-man pounded his pallet, sure that this was the end of the boy. When Jack came down for breakfast the two evil ones were convinced that he had been bewitched. In order to prove that he was indeed bewitched, and save his hide, Jack was given three impossible tasks. Being a clever and cool-headed boy, Jack pulled several fast ones on the giant pair. With rollicking dialect set to colorful action paintings, comes Johnson's second "Jack Tale." Taken from stories of his childhood, the author has recorded Appalachian versions of the classic fairy tale about Jack, the giant killer. Good fun awaits the readers of this tall tale! 2002, Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster,
— Laura Hummel
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-One stormy day, young Jack takes shelter at the cabin of a pair of giants and uses his wits to escape with his hide. The giantess and her two-headed husband want him for a snack in the worst way but after he cleverly survives their first dastardly plan, they're afraid he might be "witched," so they set him some tasks to prove himself unfit for consumption. By "milking" a rock (really a milkweed pod) and ingenuously offering to move a stream, he astonishes his captors. Then Jack convinces them to hide in the well while the sheriff and posse investigate his disappearance. And, as "a giant's well hasn't got a bottom to it," that pair of giants "is still falling, like as not." Jack, in his cap and britches, is an ordinary lad, especially in contrast to the towering giantess and to her hirsute husband. The acrylic illustrations firmly ground this tall tale in Appalachia and capture its folksy feel-from Jack's bemused hound-dog companion to the giant's checkerboard pants. The liberal use of similes and metaphors, as well as the moderate but humorous dialect, assure a fun read-aloud. From the eye-catching cover of the two-headed giant licking his lips as he contemplates Jack to the author's note briefly tracing the "Jack Tale" tradition, this down-home yarn is a fine sequel to Fearless Jack (McElderry, 2001) and a solid stand-alone addition to trickster-tale storytimes.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Even extra heads are no help when it comes to a battle of wits with Jack. Forced to seek shelter from a storm with a giant woman and her two-headed, "mud fence ugly," husband, the young traveler soon discovers that his prospects don't extend past breakfast unless he can convince his hosts that he's witched. Johnson (Fearless Jack, 2001, etc) gives his woolly haired, overall-clad trickster a pair of oversized adversaries with mottled skin, green nails, zero fashion sense-and an increasingly avid look that clearly spells out their ill intentions. But after convincing them that he can squeeze milk from a rock and other wonders, Jack's warning that the sheriff's coming sends the panicked pair diving into their well-and "they say a giant's well hasn't got a bottom to it." Told in a folksy style that fits both tale and pictures perfectly, this Appalachian folk hero's latest escapade should win him plenty of new fans. (author's note) (Picture book/folktale. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416978619
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 5/5/2008
  • Pages: 36
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Brett Johnson grew up in the small town of Mousie, Kentucky, listening to stories about Jack, the boy-hero who stars in a series of Appalachian folk tales. In Jack Outwits the Giants, he has drawn on this rich Appalachian heritage to bring the humor and energy of the Jack stories to life.

Paul Brett Johnson is a two-time recipient of the Kentucky Bluegrass Award and the creator of more than fifteen picture books, including Fearless Jack, which was named one of the New York Public Library's "One Hundred Books for Reading and Sharing" and The Cow Who Wouldn't Come Down, which was a School Library Journal Best Book and an ABA Kids' Pick of the Lists. Paul lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where he is currently at work on his third Jack Tale.

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