Reviews for Kate and the Beanstalk
Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 November 2000
Ages 4-8. This delightful version of "Jack and the Beanstalk" seamlessly incorporates several new elements while retaining all the story's winning aspects. First and foremost, of course, is that Jack has metamorphosed into Kate, a plucky girl who climbs the vine without hesitation and cunningly tricks the giant out of his hen, his gold, and his harp. A variation on the plot is Kate's right to the treasure: she is the daughter of a knight the giant has killed. The text is straightforward but punctuated by some delicious dialogue, especially between Kate and the giant's giant housekeeper. The oversize format suits Potter's art very well, allowing full range for huge characters, climbing beanstalks, and raucous action. Using a variety of mediums--pencil, ink, gouache, and watercolor--the illustrations are executed in Potter's signature folk-art style. They are immediate, innovative, and just the right size for story hours. Fee, fi, fo--fun! --Ilene CooperCopyright 2000 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Spring
In this version of ""Jack and the Beanstalk,"" Kate is a spunky and clever heroine who takes giant-killing in stride, avenging her father's death and winning back her mother's estate. The illustrations' tilty perspectives and large flat figures are a good match for this humorous revision of the traditional English tale. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2000 September #1
Osborne is not only the author of the wildly popular Magic Tree House series, but also a well-respected reteller of myths and folk tales (American Tall Tales, 1991, etc.). In this fairy-tale retelling, Osborne adds to the growing number of traditional tales flavored with a twist in perspective or characters. The magic beans, sky-high beanstalk, and fearsome giant are all present, but lazy Jack has been replaced by brave and resourceful Kate, who lives with her mother in desperate poverty. When Kate climbs the beanstalk, she retrieves the magical hen, golden coins, and talking harp, which she learns should rightfully belong to a knight's deserving widow and child (guess who?), along with the giant's castle in the clouds. Kate follows the traditional plotline of outwitting the giant and then chopping down the beanstalk, with the gruesome giant landing dead at her feet. In a proper fairy-tale coincidence, it's the very same giant who killed Kate's father, the brave knight who originally owned all the magical treasures. Potter (The Goodness-to-Honest Truth, 1999, etc.) has created flat, stylish paintings that manage to be both fresh and original and yet convey the atmosphere of a traditional European folk tale. The book's attractive over-sized design includes many double-page spreads, clever integration of text within lots of illustrations, and a delightful title page with the information incorporated into leaves sprouting off the beanstalk. Magical. (source note) (Picture book. 4-9) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 September #1
Osborne tweaks tradition with this feminist rendition of a classic fairy tale. Here it's Kate instead of Jack who trades her family's cow for magic beans, and later climbs the beanstalk to find a kingdom in the clouds. Like Ann Beneduce's recent Jack and the Beanstalk, Osborne draws from a late-19th-century source for her retelling that incorporates a disguised fairy queen and a motivation for repeated visits to the giant avenging Kate's father's death. Osborne's witty and spry reworking (she changes the giant's famous refrain to accommodate Kate's gender, "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum'un,/ I smell the blood of an Englishwoman") shows Kate in a confident light ("I fear nothing when I'm doing right," the heroine tells the fairy queen). Through her cleverness and resourcefulness (and the unwitting help of the giant's wife), the heroine earns back all that the giant usurped from her family. Potter's (Gabriella's Song) airy gouache and watercolor illustrations sparkle with humor and exploit the perspectives offered by the towering beanstalk. With her Princess Leia-style hairdo, a few disguises and a can-do attitude, Kate comes across as a real action heroine, whether setting off determinedly with the family cow, nipping up the beanstalk or pedaling an eggbeater to assist the giantess in preparing breakfast. There's much to enjoy in this spunky picture book, which puts a fresh face on an old favorite. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 October #4
Kate (instead of Jack) trades her family's cow for magic beans and climbs the beanstalk to find a kingdom in the clouds. PW 's starred review said it "puts a fresh face on an old favorite." All ages. (Oct.) [Page 61]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2000 October
PreS-Gr 4-This version, far more interesting than the more common one found on library shelves, owes much to Andrew Lang's The Red Fairy Book (1890), which is cited. An old woman meets Kate at the top of the beanstalk and discloses the "back story." The giant killed a knight and stole his castle while his wife and baby were away. "Perhaps you are the one to right the terrible wrongs," says the old woman, going on to inform Kate that she must return three treasures to the knight's widow. Following the familiar pattern, Kate pays three visits to the giant's castle. After she has succeeded in her quest, the Queen of the Fairies reveals that Kate is the knight's daughter and was being tested for her worthiness. While purists may regret the altered rhyme, "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum'un, I smell the blood of an Englishwoman-" the moral anchor in this version works nicely with the switch in the main character's gender. Careful book design is evident in this appropriately oversized volume. The dizzying perspectives seen from the beanstalk are exaggerated by text that becomes bigger and bolder with Kate's ascent and descent. The language, while accessible, has a fairy-tale formality, but there is lots of ironic humor in Potter's flat, naïf drawings. The avaricious giant is uniquely tidy with slicked-down hair and a carefully waxed mustache, and Kate rides the eggbeater like a bicycle as she helps the giantess make breakfast. One of the most lasting and popular of all fairytales, this retelling will make a popular addition to all collections.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.