ABOUT THE BOOK
Jack has always been told that giants are not real. But if that’s the case, how do you explain the huge, foot shaped pond in the yard, or the occurrence of strange and sudden storms in which the earth quakes and dirt rains from the sky? When his father is carried away in such a storm, Jack gives chase in the only logical way: by trading the family cow for some magic beans that will give him access to a land beyond the clouds. He arrives to find that the giants themselves have giant-sized troubles. With the help of an overachieving little sister, a magic goose and a chatty cook (who is not interested in grinding human bones into bread, thank you very much!) Jack sets out to save his dad and save the day.
After reading Shurtliff's first book, RUMP, a new take on the story of Rumplestiltskin, I was very much looking forward to reading her take on Jack and the Beanstalk. I was not disappointed. Shurtliff seems to have a way of taking an old, well-known story and turning it into something fresh and new. In this version of Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack is headstrong and full of pranks, especially when he butts heads with his annoying little sister. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of the story is the way the relationship between Jack and his sister, Annabella changes over the course of the story. The conflict between them shifts a bit as they gain a better understanding and appreciation for each other. The clever way that Shurtliff relates Jack's adventures in the world of the giants to her previous book, Rump was thoroughly entertaining.
For a fairy tale, this story has a remarkable depth to it. The story if full of themes related to the importance of family, what being a hero really means, the power of story, and what real treasure is. While containing a lot of the well known elements from the original story, there is much here that is new. The addition of the small humans as 'elves' serving the giants including in a cobbler's shop, the boy named Tom Thumb by his adopted giantess mother, and the idea that magic has a cost attached to it. All in all, a thoroughly engaging fairy tale retelling full of adventure, great characters, and important themes. Highly recommended.