Book Review: Jack and the Beanstalk

Rating: ★★★★★

Edith Nesbit’s classic dry wit shines through in her brilliant delivery of this traditional fairy tale (originally published in 1908), which is enjoyable on both a child’s level and an adult’s.  Tavares’ excellent paintings show the giant’s evil partly through his personal demeanor — his home is squalid, and the stains on his shirt almost smell of body odor.  Nesbit keeps to the traditional story sequence, and Jack is transformed from a foolish ne’er-do-well into a hero, and through courage and intelligence recovers what rightfully belongs to his family.

The parental figures in this story are positive: Jack’s deceased father was a good ruler, and his mother loves honest work and home, choosing to stay in her cottage even when their newfound wealth would have allowed her to leave.  Nesbit’s moralizing about Jack’s laziness is a bit heavy-handed, but even this is  tongue-in-cheek.  This is the best Jack and the Beanstalk story I have ever read.

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Publication Information: Nesbit, E.. Jack and the Beanstalk. Tavares, Matt (Illustrator). Candlewick. 2006. ISBN: 0763621242.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 04-08
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Posted on June 21, 2010

1 Response to Book Review: Jack and the Beanstalk

  • Kristina says:

    Thanks for continuing to post… I’m using your recommendations for summer reading! The age category really helps, since I need to find things for JM that I don’t have time to read. And a question regarding your last essay – Why do kids with good vocabulary still call their parents “Mom” and “Dad”? I would so much prefer an affectionate “Mother.”

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