Reviews for Jack and the Giant : A Story Full of Beans


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 February 1998
Ages 5^-9. Appropriately subtitled, this version of the classic tale "Jack and the Beanstalk" gets a southwestern twist. Jack and his mother, Annie Okey-Dokey, live on a ranch in Arizona. A giant has stolen all their cattle, and they're forced to sell their last cow--which Jack trades for beans. The magic beanstalk this time leads to an adobe castle in the sky, where Jack encounters the giant cattle rustler Wild Bill Hiccup; from then on, the story takes its predictable turns. Filled with puns and twists, this re-telling is fun, though the humor sometimes borders on the crass (rather than a goose laying golden eggs, there's a buffalo laying golden chips). The cartoon-style art is big and bright, though the exaggerated features and characteristics, reminiscent of political cartoons, might intimidate the younger ones. Still, those familiar with the original will enjoy Jack in this new setting, and adults will appreciate some of the more sophisticated and sly asides down on the range. ((Reviewed February 1, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1998
A yeasty, fast-paced southwestern version of ""Jack and the Beanstalk"" pits a poor cowpoke against a giant cattle rustler named Wild Bill Hiccup. Jack's famous trade results in his discovery of the giant's treasures, including a buffalo that makes solid gold chips, with which Jack sneaks off. The pursuit that follows creates the Grand Canyon. Varied in perspective, the exaggerated watercolors provide additional humor to a sure-fire hit for reading aloud. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Library Talk Reviews 1999 January
A young cowpoke named Jack lives with his ma, Annie Okey-Dokey, in a version of the familiar beanstalk story set in Arizona. Jack climbs the stalk in his boots and Stetson. The giant here, in his Adobe castle, smells "the boots of a buckaroo." Jack escapes capture by hiding in a pickle jar; the magical items he steals are a singing banjo, a gold-producing lasso, and a buffalo. Solid gold buffalo "chips" add to the fun. By means of the lasso, our hero bests the giant, whose fall incidentally creates the Grand Canyon. The traditional "happy ever after" ending has Jack and his ma on the Bar None Ranch "as happy as a herd of javelinas in a patch of prickly pear." The broadly visualized caricatures add a proper chili seasoning to the slapstick yarn. The many small, even tiny details include comic asides in cartoon-like balloons, along with antic mice and tongue-in-cheek comments on signs, all done by Harris with exaggerated humor. Harris's illustrations have texture and his figures solidity. Some students might be encouraged to retell this old tale in their own settings. Recommended. Ken and Sylvia Marantz, Columbus, Ohio © 1999 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 September #1
Harris (The Three Little Javelinas) takes a crack at a classic tale's makeover and gives it a Western spin. Impoverished Jack, a young cowpoke, trades his cow for a bag of magic beans and chewing gum that a peddler has already chewed for three weeks. Climbing the stalk that appears overnight when his mother throws the beans out the window, Jack reaches an adobe castle in the sky, inhabited by an oversized outlaw named Wild Bill Hiccup, who roars: "Yippee yi yay,/ Yippee yi yeeew/ I smell the boots/ of a buckaroo!" After some silly, rambling exchanges with the giant, Jack escapes with a lasso that turns objects into gold and a buffalo that expels solid gold chips. A few fun puns will hit home for adults (Jack's ma is Annie Okey-Dokey and they live in a ranch called Bar None), but much of the scatological humor seems gratuitous (e.g., the chewing gum, the buffalo chips and Jack hits the trail "just as the sun clear[s] Bad Luck Butte"). Harris's hyperbolic (and sometimes garish) cartoons do little to ground the attempt at parody. Young Westerners may appreciate the local jokes, but this may be a bit too over-the-top for most of the picture-book set. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1998 January
Gr 1-4?A retelling of the classic story with a Wild West setting. Not only is the giant a cannibal, but he is also a cattle rustler who counts among his treasures a buffalo with the ability to produce solid gold chips. Jack makes only one visit to the top of the beanstalk, and he is assisted by a (male) cook instead of the giant's wife. As a parody, this rendition is much less imaginative and appealing than Raymond Briggs's Jim and the Beanstalk (Putnam, 1989). The cartoon illustrations, done in both transparent and opaque watercolor, are well executed; Jack is short and stubby, rather like the characters in Roy Gerrard's Rosie and the Rustlers (Farrar, 1989), and everyone mugs strenuously, including Jack's cat, who comments on the action. For all the expressiveness of the illustrations, though, they aren't as engaging as those in Steven Kellogg's Jack and the Beanstalk (Morrow, 1991), which is based on the Joseph Jacobs version of the tale. Libraries having that book or one of the more traditional versions such as those retold and illustrated by Lorinda Bryan Cauley (Putnam, 1983; o.p.) or John Howe (Little, Brown, 1989), or the one by Alan Garner, illustrated by Julek Heller, (Doubleday, 1992; o.p.) don't need to add this one. If a change of setting is desired, James Still's Jack and the Wonder Beans (Univ. Pr. of Kentucky, 1996), illustrated by Margot Tomes, retains the traditional story, but couches it in a southern Appalachian vernacular.?Pam Gosner, formerly at Maplewood Memorial Library, NJ

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