Review Blog

Nov 06 2014

A bean, a stalk and a boy called Jack by William Joyce

cover image

Ill. by Kenny Callicutt. Simon and Schuster, 2014. ISBN 9781471123795
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Picture book, Folk tale, Water. Water is at the heart of this story which turns the old tale of Jack and the Beanstalk upside down. The countryside is bereft of water, no crops grow, no rains fall, the wells and rivers have dried up, but above all else the king's pinky is dirty. To wash his little toe, he orders his minions to cry, using their tears to wash his toe. But the embarrassed princess goes to the wizard to find a better solution, and he gives her a magic bean. Soon in the hands of Jack, the bean is planted and he climbs the vine to the giant's house in the sky to see what he can find. In doing so he finds out why there is no water and fixes the problem to the satisfaction of all.
A funny take on the old tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, readers will enjoy the extras the author has added to the story. The twists on the tale are enchanting, as is the language used. Contractions of words often heard but rarely seen in print add another level of humour, as do the fabulous illustrations, evoking an older style of pictorial work, but using different touches to add intrigue. I love the bubbles going across the pages, and the different fonts and sizes of fonts used for definition. Readers will enjoy following the paths of many of the background objects, the cow, the bird, the rubber ducky, the magician and so on. A fabulous story to read aloud and discuss with the audience, A bean a stalk and Jack will keep everyone tickled pink.
Fran Knight

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