Oh, that interminable, lovable dunderhead Jack. With nothing left in the cupboard, his mother sends him out to sell the cow, and what does Jack return with? That's right. Six puny beans. Magic beans, according to the funny little man who made the trade with Jack. In a huff, Jack's mom tosses them out the window. The rest is history. A beanstalk grows to the sky; Jack climbs to the land of the clouds; a goose lays golden eggs; a giant rages, "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum!"... you may know the story, but you've never seen a version like this before!
Professional storyteller Richard Walker retells the classic tale with an extra measure of nonsense and rakish humor, as when the bean barterer explains that although he knows the beans are magic, he's not quite sure what they do: he's lost the instructions for them. Award-winning illustrator Niamh Sharkey presents unique, quirky images of Jack and the rest of the gang that will quickly replace any traditional mental pictures readers may have been nursing until now. This creative team has laid a golden egg. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Like Beneduce and Spirin in their adaptation of this staple (reviewed above), Walker (The Barefoot Book of Pirates) and Sharkey (The Gigantic Turnip) try to mediate its violence. But where Beneduce and Spirin lessen the impact of the violence by providing Jack with a motive, Walker and Sharkey soften the tale itself. The plot follows tradition; the big change comes in the giant's refrain, now "Fee, fi, fo, fum! I smell the blood of a stinky man!" The giant speaks these words just once, rather than in a terror-heightening sequence, and he certainly never threatens to grind Jack's bones to make his bread. Having removed much of the suspense, the text proceeds to a tepid conclusion in which Jack uses the stalk to catapult his foe "into space.... And, as far as I know, he's still there." Sharkey, working in semitransparent earth-tone oils, envisions the giant as a flat-headed Frankenstein with an oversize jaw and a serrated underbite, and Jack as an elfin type with an eggshell-white face and a cranberry-red jester's cap. It's a contemporary, puckish look, one that tells the audience not to take the story too seriously. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
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