|Retold by John Cech. Robert Mackenzie, illus|
|Pages/Publication Date:||32 / 2008|
A bartered cow, a handful of beans, a furious mom, a magical beanstalk, and a castle in the sky: people have been telling the tale of Jack and his beanstalk for hundreds of years, and it continues to enchant. After all, what small child wouldn't want the ability to outwit a scary giant? A professor of English and children's literature, John Cech retells this classic fairy tale for readers and listeners up to 8. It is still set long ago and far away, of course, but the unpleasant end that usually befalls the hungry giant has been reimagined, and there are other lively new details, from what became of the giant's long-suffering wife to the meaning of distant thunder—and the reason for that mysterious bag of beans that most of us seem to have, tucked away in a corner of the kitchen. Cech also includes plenty of lighthearted humor, as well as notes on the origin of the tale and the various versions told over the centuries.
"Jack, an endearing boy with apple-red cheeks, sells his cow for a handful of beans and climbs the beanstalk. The giant's wife feeds him and hides him three times from her uncouth, ever-hungry husband ("Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell a visitor, yum, yum, yum./Fish or fowl, cold or hot, We'll cook him up inside my pot"), and forgives him for taking the giant's possessions. Because the bones of this classic tale are right, Cech's enhancements feel right, too.... [Robert] Mackenzie's watercolor illustrations are done in a folk style using a green and gold palette with touches of red. The giant, with his very small head and bleary eyes, contrasts nicely with the rosy cheerfulness of Jack and his mother. Perspective is used to advantage, showing the beanstalk disappearing in the clouds and then the insubstantial base when seen from the top."—School Library Journal
"This smoothly paced version, which begins with some humorous wordplay, runs close to traditional tellings until the end, when the giant's wife joins Jack in his hasty escape.... Mackenzie ably ramps up the drama in the pencil-and-paint scenes of apple-cheeked Jack eluding the bulbous-nosed, ham-handed giant. The extensive final note, connecting the story's motifs to archetypal tales throughout history, adds another reason for purchase."—Booklist