The Thief and the Beanstalk

P. W. Catanese, Author . S&S/Aladdin $4.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-689-87173-3

Turns out crime does not pay after all, and Jack, who robbed the giant of his hen and harp, has been carrying a guilty conscience heavier than a sack of golden eggs for 60 years. So when Nick, a young, orphaned thief, breaks into Jack's castle with larcenous intent, Jack instead lets him get away with a set of magic beans, in effect inviting him to climb a new beanstalk and find out what happened to the giant's kindly wife. What Jack doesn't know is that Nick entered the castle under orders from the vicious leader of a gang of thieves. He's as conflicted about his task as Jack is about his ill-gotten wealth. First-time novelist Catanese smartly plumbs this well-known story for all its moral ambiguity. Some readers might welcome quicker pacing (especially to eliminate redundancy as one villain's death unfolds from three different points of view, including the villain's as he's dying). Still, this is the rare fairy tale variant that will appeal to boys—not a princess nor romance in sight—and the plot brims with perilous battles, narrow escapes and truly icky elements (e.g., the nightmarish creatures with spider bodies and human heads that trail Nick through the giant's castle). Fans of Tim Burton's movies will enjoy this, and will likely welcome Catanese's second adventure, The Brave Apprentice ($4.99 paper ISBN 0-689-87174-0), a twist on The Brave Little Tailor, available now. Ages 9-12. (June)

Reviewed on: 08/08/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4391-1306-6
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-4169-2500-2
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-4814-7632-4
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-4814-7633-1
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