Book Review: Jack and the Beanstalk by Nina Crews


Jack and the Beanstalk by Nina Crews

A fresh, modern take on the traditional tale, here Jack lives in a city and is paid the beans for a job he has done.  When he plants the beans, they grow into the huge beanstalk.  He climbs the beanstalk to discover giants living in the clouds.  Giants who have a hen who lays golden eggs and plenty of jobs for Jack to do for them.  But Jack escapes down the beanstalk with the hen.  The giants chase after him, and then the ending takes a pleasant twist from the traditional story.  A new look at an old story, this book will be most enjoyed by children who are familiar with the traditional tale and can spot the differences.

Crews is known for her innovative illustrations that use collages of photographs to create modern, vibrant stories.  Here she uses the technique to great effect with beanstalk in particular.  She also captures the feel of an urban setting very nicely and subtly.  The entire book feels modern and interesting.

The story does have surprising twists and turns from the original.  This too adds the feeling of freshness.  The story moves along faster than the original and reads aloud very nicely.  The bellows of the giants, the rhythm of the writing, and the bright illustrations make for a book that is perfect for sharing.

Ideal for comparing and contrasting with more traditional versions of the story, this book also reads aloud well on its own.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt and Company.