Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk by Liesl Shurtliff

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Summary:  Jack’s seven-times-great grandfather and namesake was a giant killer, and Jack is sure he is destined for adventure.  When his neighbor’s cabbage crop disappears overnight, Jack is the only one who believes the crazy peddler who says that it’s the work of giants.  A few nights later, the giants come back, this time to wipe out the entire village and its neighboring farms.  Jack’s father gets taken away, and Jack is determined to find the giant’s land and rescue Papa.  He questions the peddler, who gives him three giant beans in exchange for the family cow (and last source of food).  You may think you know the rest of the story, but just wait.  There are pixies, a greedy king, an adventurous younger sister who follows Jack up the beanstalk, and a curse on giant land that only Jack can break.  Recommended for grades 3-7.

Pros:  This fun retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk is nonstop action, taking place in a magical world rich with details and engaging characters.  It would make a great read-aloud for elementary kids, and could include comparisons to other versions of the story. Look for the companion book Rump, a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.

Cons:  At over 300 pages, this could be an ambitious undertaking for younger readers.

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