CM . . . . Volume XX Number 33 . . . . April 25, 2014
Starting with the title, this story is familiar and different simultaneously. Jack, who has been sent to the market to sell the family wares, trades his worldly goods for a handful of magic beans. When thrown out the window by Jack's unappreciative mother, the beans grow into a large beanstalk leading to the kingdom of the giants. The twist in the plot comes when Jack meets the only giant in the kingdom who doesn't actually like to eat humans and, instead, prefers bean pie. Rather than stealing from the kindly giant, Jack introduces the other giants to the glory found in bean pie, thereby making himself fabulously wealthy.
Young readers will be able to pick out the similarities and differences in plot and characterization. While this is not the instructive and gruesome fairy tale found in the original version of Jack the Giantkiller, parents will appreciate the more subtle messages in this story. The giants make a healthy choice to eat vegetables, Jack and the giant have a relationship based on teamwork rather than intimidation, and Jack chooses to work with his situation rather than steal and kill.
The full-colour illustrations are done in a style reminiscent of Quentin Blake. The giants are illustrated simply as larger humans rather than scary villains. The print is larger for beginning readers, and the publisher has included two puzzles for comprehension: one for sequencing and one to match dialogue with illustrations. Reading prompts are provided for read-alouds and shared reading experiences.
Kate Hachborn is a library technician at the W. Ross Macdonald School in Brantford, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.