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The Giant and the Beanstalk Hardcover – August 17, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3–Despite his fearsome appearance, Otto, a young giant who lives in a magical kingdom high above the human world, is gentle and polite. When his beloved pet chicken is stolen by the human Jack, he descends the beanstalk to try and retrieve her. After being misdirected to every other nursery-rhyme Jack in town, Otto finally finds the culprit. The giant realizes that the boy only wanted to sell Clara so that he could retrieve his own lost pet, Milky White the cow, and the two find a way to retrieve their adored animals. All ends happily as the other giants recognize Otto's heroic qualities, and Jack and his mother open a roadside stand to sell soup mix, made, of course, from beans. While the sharp satire and social commentary that ran throughout Stanley's Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter (HarperCollins, 1997) are missing here, the point-of-view reversal is amusing and the plot and characters are nicely developed. The watercolor illustrations depict a cozy, bucolic fairy-tale world and are replete with humorous details. This is a worthy addition to the growing canon of fractured fairy tales.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 1-3. Everything happens in threes in the world of folklore, so it's only natural that Stanley should follow up her Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter (1997) and Goldie and the Three Bears (2003) with a third revisionist tale. Otto the giant is a tenderhearted fellow who keeps a hen for a pet. And that "fee-fi-fo-fum" thing? That's just "the scariest thing he could remember from fourth-grade Threats and Curses," which he blurts out in desperation when he catches Jack stealing his beloved hen. Otto follows Jack down the beanstalk, where his search leads him to numerous villagers named Jack--each of whom hails from a different nursery rhyme. The rhymes, which aren't always obvious, can be found at the end of the book. Finally, Otto catches up with the proper Jack and the pair work out a satisfactory trade. Although the blending of fractured fairy tale and nursery-rhyme seek-and-find feels a little clumsy, Stanley injects her characteristic, understated humor into both text and art, and young ones will take pleasure in identifying the individual elements of the thoroughly mixed-up story. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (August 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060000104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060000103
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Diane Stanley is the author and illustrator of more than fifty books for children, noted especially for her series of picture book biographies. SHAKA: KING OF THE ZULUS was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; LEONARDO DA VINCI received the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction from the National Council for Teachers of English. Ten of her books have been honored as "Notable Books" by the American Library Association and she has twice received both the Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Golden Kite Award. She is the recipient of the Washington Post/Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction for the body of her work.

She lives in Santa Fe, NM. Visit her website at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I thought that this book was really cute. Although I am a little old for it, I loved it! Otto was really funny and his quest to save clara the hen was really sweet. It shows the giant's side of the story instead of the one we usually hear.

I happened to really like this book, and fairy tales and classics really aren't my thing. This book was right up my alley. My dad dislikes kids books and classics, and he thought that this story was as cute as he's ever read.

My little brother hates reading, but he reads this book all the time, around three times a day.

We found out about this book from the teacher at my brother's school because she wanted him to read. He loved it, and had me read it to him a few times.

THIS IS THE BEST SORT OF CLASSIC I HAVE EVER READ IN MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deb Nam-Krane VINE VOICE on January 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you like the Stinky Cheese Man, you will love this book. Now, at last, the untold story behind the well-known tale of Jack and the Beanstalk is finally revealed. No, the giant is not really a blood-thirsty monster who wants to eat Jack, and no, he doesn't have the hen because he is greedy. Otto is that rare, gentle giant (although possibly not the brigthest).

To recover his precious hen, Otto travels through five or six different fairy tales in search of the elusive Jack. Older readers will recognize the "other" Jacks immediately, and everyone will get a chuckle out of the giant's quest.

A fun version of an old story, which gives new meaning to the phrase "...and they lived happily ever after."
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Format: Hardcover
In yet another parody of a well-known fairytale, Diane Stanley tells the classic Jack and the beanstalk story from the gentle giant's perspective. The Giant and the Beanstalk tells of Otto, a kind, loving soul whose favorite pet chicken is stolen. Otto is heartbroken and desperately begins to search for Jack and his hen. After encounters with nearly all the children's rhyme Jacks, Otto finds the correct Jack and makes a trade that leaves both parties quite happy. The giant world reexamines their values and learns from meek Otto's loving example.

Stanley is able to tell of Otto's quest with a unique and admirable amount of suspense, considering, of course, that this is a children's book. Her style weaves clever references to various nursery rhyme characters with an earnest giant's search to create a charming tale. The dialogue is believable and completely natural; some of the characters that Otto meets are friendly, others are fearful, but all speak in an unaffected, straightforward manner. The interesting point of view shift will intrigue readers who know the original version well; the giant is too often cruel, mindless, and demanding, and Jack becomes a hero for his thievery. Stanley's adaptation acknowledges that Jack wrongs another being with genuine feelings in his quest to remedy his family's poverty. Otto has a history, a personality, and a problem. He is no longer the flat character that the original version of this tale portrays him. The artwork too, will endear children to the book. Stanley slyly slips many references of the other Jacks into the pictures, as well as the text. The page containing the Jack that built the house contains all the elements of that particular rhyme, up to the sack of malt and priest in background.
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Format: Hardcover
Clever. This new twist on Jack and the Beanstalk gives children the other point of view. Was the giant really mean and nasty? This book keeps the reader on his toes by painting the familar fairytale in another light. I like how the giant had to go through five other Jack characters to find the one who climbed the beanstalk. This would be a great book to share in a classroom who is already familar with the traditional story and nursery rhymes involving the Jack characters. This could create a great conversation.
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By C. T. Gilbert on April 6, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great kid' s book. My granddaughter age 5 loved it. It is the beanstalk story in reverse. Jack is bad and steals the giant's pet hen. Therefore he has to go down the beanstalk to get her back. Of course everyone is afraid of him because he is-well -so big. The moral is of course that you can't judge a person by his looks. The book is cleverly written and illustrated. I think kids between 4 and 8 would enjoy this story. I am so glad I got it for my granddaughter.
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