A Bean, a Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack by William Joyce and Kenny Callicutt is a modern adaptation on the story Jack and the Beanstalk. This book tells the story of a “smallish kid with the smallish name of Jack” and how he lives in a town where it did not rain for a very long time. The king’s pinky toe became stinky, so he made all the villagers come cry on his toe to potentially alleviate the smell. The princess was so embarrassed that she asked the old wizard to fix the drought.
The wizard researched and did some magic, and a small magic bean appeared to Jack. The bean told Jack to dig a hole, burry it, add some water, and repeat magic words. When Jack did these tasks, a giant beanstalk emerged and took him up to a giant boy’s bathtub. He had been taking a bath for a long time because his pinky toe was stinky. His mom told him to get out of the tub, and Jack asked him to turn off the faucet. Jack returned to the village by going down the faucet, and then the rain came. The king’s pinky was no longer stinky. The princess and Jack became friends, and the bean told the princess he was thirsty. Jack asked the princess (whose name he learned was Jill) if she wanted to help him fetch a pail of water for his friend. The story ends with them walking up the hill, which alludes to the nursery rhyme “Jack and Jill.”
The illustrations in this book are absolutely stunning. There is so much color, and I believe children would be drawn to it simply by looking at the cover. The illustrations appear to be computer-animated, so there is much detail in them. This book is recommended for ages 3-6, and children this age are just getting out of the sensorimotor stage of development. During this stage, children look to the environment and their senses to understand life. The bright colors of this book will help them to really engage in the story. There is also not a ton of text on most of the pages, which really encourages the readers to understand the story based on the illustrations.
3-6 year-olds are in the pre-operational stage, and during this time they begin to understand animism. This term means that children believe inanimate objects have human feelings and intentions. The children will enjoy the fact that the bean has feelings and needs, just like a human.
I absolutely love that this story is similar to Jack and the Beanstalk but has a different spin on it. Parents will likely want to read this book to their children because it will remind them of their childhood memories associated with Jack and the Beanstalk but with a new spin. If kindergarten or first grade teachers used this story in their classrooms, they could compare this story to the traditional story of Jack and the Beanstalk.
I think that kids will live this hilarious story. The vocabulary is mostly words that kids use, but there are some new words that they can learn. The story’s theme is that anyone can do extraordinary things, and it is important for kids to know that they can do anything. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who may work with kids.
Written by: Emily Barker