Illustrator Stimpson’s (How to Cook Children) authorial debut gives Jack and the Beanstalk a needed overhaul, infusing the story with humor, warmth, and an evocative Depression-era setting. Jack’s mother runs a down-on-its-luck food truck turned diner, and the giant becomes a chatty, suspenders-wearing miser with a secret yen to be a chef. Moments when the story is gentled are the most rewarding. “Are you sure you won’t come with us?” Jack asks the giant as he’s leaving for home, joined by a chicken and a talking radio that resembles the Chrysler Building. “You could chase us!” Stimpson’s digital artwork looks like a series of movie stills, exploiting edgy, provocative angles. A towering, spiraling beanstalk shoots into the sky; the giant’s banklike brick home looms large; Jack and his dog perch on piles of gold coins, watching the giant wield his knife and fork. Stimpson’s happy ending features a splendid spread of the shiny diner, its gargantuan new chef, and even two steam shovels that look a lot like Mike Mulligan’s. A lovely if ambitious bedtime readaloud whose cinematic artwork enthralls. Ages 3–6. (July)
Illustrator Stimpson’s authorial debut gives Jack and the Beanstalk a needed overhaul, infusing the story with humor, warmth, and an evocative Depression-era setting... A lovely if ambitious bedtime readaloud whose cinematic artwork enthralls.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Stimpson’s authorial debut is a remaking of the timeless fairy tale that includes both a wonderfully fleshed-out city circa the 1930s and an ending that is happy for everyone.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
In this updated version of Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack and his mother run a busy cafe. But when the city builds an overpass, nobody stops to eat there anymore. Jack's mother sends him to the store with their last few pennies to buy milk and coffee beans. Instead, Jack is persuaded by an old man to buy a can of magic baked beans. His furious mother throws the can out the window. The next morning there's a huge vine with cans of beans outside, and Jack is sure that there must be a treasure at the top. Jack and his dog climb up there and find a huge giant counting gold coins. This giant however, nattily dressed with a derby, wants to feed them instead of eating them; the story has a different, but happy ending. The modern tale is set in the high rising metropolis over which the vine grows on the jacket. A small but elegant gold vine twists on the linen-like bean-colored cover. The end pages are just flooded with the beans. The detailed, naturalistic illustrations are digitally produced; they fill the single and double-page scenes with impressive settings, from the massive multilevel traffic to the looming castle. Comparisons with other versions should be amusing. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
K-Gr 4—In this recasting of the traditional tale set during the Depression era, Jack and his mother live and work in a broken-down burger truck parked at the edge of town. When a new overpass diverts traffic away from their location, business dries up. Jack is sent to the store with their last pennies for milk and coffee beans, but instead buys a can of magic baked beans from a mysterious stranger and is tossed out by his angry mother. After the purchase grows into a vine sprouting shiny cans of this delicious staple, the boy climbs up and meets a fearsome-looking giant, but soon discovers that this lonely individual would rather cook for him than eat him. In fact, the giant, bored with counting gold, would take Jack up on his invitation to return home with him, but for his fear of heights. However, events conspire to land the big guy at Jack's doorstep and bring about a happy-ever-after ending for all. Alternating between single- and double-page images and album-style snapshots, the digitally created artwork presents sepia-toned city scenes and gold-tinged vine-top panoramas with cinematic flair. Shifts in light and perspective underscore the magic and convey the mood. Amusing touches abound, and the cleverly envisioned characters include a charismatic Jack and a giant outfitted as an oversize banker in a pinstriped suit, round spectacles, and red carnation. A satisfying retelling, flavored with jaunty humor and the message that money can't buy happiness.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Stimpson's authorial debut is a remaking of the timeless fairy tale that includes both a wonderfully fleshed-out city circa the 1930s and an ending that is happy for everyone. Jack's Fast Food is a hopping café run by Jack and his mother out of an old, broken-down burger truck. But when the new overpass closes the street out front, Jack and his mom fall on hard times. Per tradition, Jack spends their last coins on a can of magic baked beans, which his furious mother hurls outside. In the morning, Jack climbs the cans-of-beans–festooned beanstalk to find a friendly but lonely giant busily counting his money, "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fummy, / I'm always counting money. / Be it silver or be it gold, / It'll make me happy-- / Or so I'm told." Jack, the giant, the magic radio and the giant chicken all bond over lunch, but a beanstalk mishap extends their visit indefinitely while opening a whole new chapter for the Baked Beanstalk Café. As in
The Polar Express, Stimpson's artwork masterfully evokes both the mood and setting of the story. Retro styling, colors and type all work together to convey an old-time, urban feel to the digital illustrations, which portray a world where suits and dresses are the dress code (both incomplete without a hat), and the streets are filled with classic cars. Stimpson's money-can't-buy-happiness moral goes down easily with the help of his wonderfully atmospheric artwork. (Picture book. 3-9)
Each magnificent spread looks like a still from a cherished animated classic.
The New York Times Book Review