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Kate and the Beanstalk

Kate and the Beanstalk

5.0 1
by Mary Pope Osborne, Giselle Potter (Illustrator)

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"I smell the blood of an Englishwoman. Be she alive or be she dead, I'll grind her bones to make my bread."
Mary Pope Osborne's funny, magical retelling of a favorite tale and Giselle Potter's enchanting illustrations feature Kate, a new and inspiring heroine for today's audience. Readers will cheer on this resorceful, gutsy girl as she outsmarts


"I smell the blood of an Englishwoman. Be she alive or be she dead, I'll grind her bones to make my bread."
Mary Pope Osborne's funny, magical retelling of a favorite tale and Giselle Potter's enchanting illustrations feature Kate, a new and inspiring heroine for today's audience. Readers will cheer on this resorceful, gutsy girl as she outsmarts the famously greedy giant.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Osborne tweaks tradition with this feminist rendition of a classic fairy tale. Here it's Kate instead of Jack who trades her family's cow for magic beans, and later climbs the beanstalk to find a kingdom in the clouds. Like Ann Beneduce's recent Jack and the Beanstalk, Osborne draws from a late-19th-century source for her retelling that incorporates a disguised fairy queen and a motivation for repeated visits to the giant--avenging Kate's father's death. Osborne's witty and spry reworking (she changes the giant's famous refrain to accommodate Kate's gender, "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum'un,/ I smell the blood of an Englishwoman") shows Kate in a confident light ("I fear nothing when I'm doing right," the heroine tells the fairy queen). Through her cleverness and resourcefulness (and the unwitting help of the giant's wife), the heroine earns back all that the giant usurped from her family. Potter's (Gabriella's Song) airy gouache and watercolor illustrations sparkle with humor and exploit the perspectives offered by the towering beanstalk. With her Princess Leia-style hairdo, a few disguises and a can-do attitude, Kate comes across as a real action heroine, whether setting off determinedly with the family cow, nipping up the beanstalk or pedaling an eggbeater to assist the giantess in preparing breakfast. There's much to enjoy in this spunky picture book, which puts a fresh face on an old favorite. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Publishers Weekly
Kate (instead of Jack) trades her family's cow for magic beans and climbs the beanstalk to find a kingdom in the clouds. PW's starred review said it "puts a fresh face on an old favorite." All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Much to her mother's great consternation, Kate trades their cow for a few magic beans. Her mother tosses them out the window, and the beanstalk grows high into the sky. When Kate climbs the beanstalk, she meets an old woman who tells her that the castle she sees once belonged to a knight and his wife. Kate agrees to go to the castle and retrieve three precious treasures from the giant. The familiar old tale has been rewritten with a plucky, resourceful heroine and a lively, often humorous, pleasing-to-the-ear text. Potter's perspectives stretch the reader's imagination. The giant is truly a menacing figure. Effective use of line and the soft palette bring out the drama and the wonder of this cleverly retold tale. 2000, Atheneum, $16.00. Ages 5 up. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-This version, far more interesting than the more common one found on library shelves, owes much to Andrew Lang's The Red Fairy Book (1890), which is cited. An old woman meets Kate at the top of the beanstalk and discloses the "back story." The giant killed a knight and stole his castle while his wife and baby were away. "Perhaps you are the one to right the terrible wrongs," says the old woman, going on to inform Kate that she must return three treasures to the knight's widow. Following the familiar pattern, Kate pays three visits to the giant's castle. After she has succeeded in her quest, the Queen of the Fairies reveals that Kate is the knight's daughter and was being tested for her worthiness. While purists may regret the altered rhyme, "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum'un, I smell the blood of an Englishwoman-" the moral anchor in this version works nicely with the switch in the main character's gender. Careful book design is evident in this appropriately oversized volume. The dizzying perspectives seen from the beanstalk are exaggerated by text that becomes bigger and bolder with Kate's ascent and descent. The language, while accessible, has a fairy-tale formality, but there is lots of ironic humor in Potter's flat, na f drawings. The avaricious giant is uniquely tidy with slicked-down hair and a carefully waxed mustache, and Kate rides the eggbeater like a bicycle as she helps the giantess make breakfast. One of the most lasting and popular of all fairytales, this retelling will make a popular addition to all collections.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
In Kate and the Beanstalk, which was written by Mary Pope Osborne and ilustrated with gorgeous, folk-arty watercolors by Giselle Potter, our heroine is reclaiming treasures that the Giant snatched from her family once upon a time.
Kirkus Reviews
Osborne is not only the author of the wildly popular Magic Tree House series, but also a wellrespected reteller of myths and folk tales (American Tall Tales, 1991, etc.). In this fairytale retelling, Osborne adds to the growing number of traditional tales flavored with a twist in perspective or characters. The magic beans, skyhigh beanstalk, and fearsome giant are all present, but lazy Jack has been replaced by brave and resourceful Kate, who lives with her mother in desperate poverty. When Kate climbs the beanstalk, she retrieves the magical hen, golden coins, and talking harp, which she learns should rightfully belong to a knight's deserving widow and child (guess who?), along with the giant's castle in the clouds. Kate follows the traditional plotline of outwitting the giant and then chopping down the beanstalk, with the gruesome giant landing dead at her feet. In a proper fairytale coincidence, it's the very same giant who killed Kate's father, the brave knight who originally owned all the magical treasures. Potter (The GoodnesstoHonest Truth, 1999, etc.) has created flat, stylish paintings that manage to be both fresh and original and yet convey the atmosphere of a traditional European folk tale. The book's attractive oversized design includes many doublepage spreads, clever integration of text within lots of illustrations, and a delightful title page with the information incorporated into leaves sprouting off the beanstalk. Magical. (source note) (Picture book. 49)

Product Details

Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.90(h) x 0.10(d)
AD440L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Mary Pope Osborne is the award-winning author of many distinguished books for children and young adults, including the bestselling Magic Treehouse series; Favorite Medieval Tales, illustrated by Troy Howell; American Tall Tales, illustrated by Michael McCurdy; Rocking Horse Christmas, illustrated by Ned Bittinger; and Adaline Falling Star. The former president of the Author's Guild, she lives in New York City with her husband, Will.

Giselle Potter is the author and illustrator of The Year I Didn't Go to School, which is based upon her travels around Italy with her family's theater troupe at age seven. She is also the illustrator of The Brave Little Seamstress and Kate and the Beanstalk, both by Mary Pope Osborne, The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia C. McKissack, and Gabriella's Song by Candace Fleming. Ms. Potter lives in Rosendale, New York.

Brief Biography

Goshen, Connecticut
Date of Birth:
May 20, 1949
Place of Birth:
Fort Sill, Oklahoma
B.A., University of North Carolina

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Kate and the Beanstalk 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago