Jack: The True Story of Jack & the Beanstalk
By Andrea Beach,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Exciting, funny, fractured fairy tale of boy vs. giants.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Kids familiar with the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale can compare this story to other versions. Each chapter opens with a quote from Jack the Giant Killer, adapted by Joseph Jacobs in the late 19th century.
Part of being great is knowing when to step aside and listen to others, even those smaller than you. Everyone feels small sometimes, even giants. Actions take more effort than words. Being beautiful is no guarantee of being loved. There's not much use for gold when you have everything you need, such as food, shelter, and family. There's magic in growing things, and keeping close ties to the land yields treasure greater than gold.
Positive Role Models
Jack is a mischievous troublemaker but doesn't have bad intentions. He learns to empathize with those he's played tricks on and doesn't want to make people or animals feel bad anymore. He's brave and clever and learns that his annoying little sister has valuable ideas and talents too. Sister Annabelle is a friend to everyone, able to bring out the best in others. Jack's mother scolds him a lot, but both parents are loving.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent peril from fantasy creatures such as giants and pixies. People being crushed and eaten by giants mentioned many times. A few fights with punching and hitting. A bleeding injury mentioned.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Liesl Shurtliff's Jack: The True Story of Jack & the Beanstalk is another fractured fairy tale from the author of Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. It follows the traditional story with a few alterations, most notably that Jack is 12 years old. Some characters from Rump appear, but it's a stand-alone story. Expect fantasy violence from being in frequent peril from giant humans and animals as well as magical pixies; a few fights include punches and hits. Jack learns empathy and changes his behavior. Kids can be encouraged to think about the value of growing things and being content with having enough instead of being obsessed with wanting more.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
Giants descend from the sky, destroying everything in their wake and taking the village's food, crops, and animals back up into the sky with them. Worst of all, they take Jack's father. Hoping to find a way up through the clouds before his father gets eaten, Jack plants some magic beans. When the beanstalk grows up into the Blue and dirt starts falling from the sky, Jack starts climbing. Up above the clouds, he finds a whole kingdom of giants. If he can avoid being eaten himself, either by the giants or by any one of the many giant toads, spiders, mice, cats, and dogs that inhabit the giant world, can he find his father and a way back down the beanstalk?
Is It Any Good?
JACK: THE TRUE STORY OF JACK & THE BEANSTALK will keep kids on the edges of their seats as they follow the adventures of the relatable hero through the scary world of giants. There are plenty of laughs along the way, but Jack's more action-oriented style will keep the pages turning. Some favorite, and not-so-favorite, characters from Rump make return appearances, and kids will enjoy looking at them from a new perspective.
Many favorite fairy tales also are referenced, and kids will stay engaged recognizing Tom Thumb, the old woman who lived in a shoe, and the shoemaker and the elves, among others. The modern, easygoing language and fast-moving action make it an entertaining choice either to read aloud or to keep kids engrossed and reading on their own.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why fairy tales are always popular. Why do we love them so much?
What other versions of Jack and the Beanstalk have you read or seen? What's different about this one? Do you have a favorite?
Did you read Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstltskin? How is Jack different or the same? Which story do you like better?
- Author: Liesl Shurtliff
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Fairy Tales, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
- Publication date: April 21, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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Where to Read
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