cover image Jack and the Beanstalk and the French Fries

Jack and the Beanstalk and the French Fries

Mark Teague. Orchard, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-91431-4

Teague (The Pirate Jamboree) uses the classic beanstalk story to lobby for vegetables—except beans, which he admits can be awful. Jack’s mother tosses his seeds out the window (“Foolish boy! You have ruined us!”) but rejoices in the endless crop of beans the magic vine produces: “They ate bean salad and bean soup, pickled beans and refried beans... breaded beans, bean sprouts, and bean dip.” The town’s children come after Jack when they’re forced to eat beans, too, and their bullying drives Jack up the stalk, where he discovers that the giant has the same problem (“You know what’s disgusting? Beans”). Jack’s initial wish for junk food (“He dreamed of burgers. He dreamed of french fries”) is smoothly replaced by the joy of tending a huge vegetable garden—and by the homemade fries he makes from his own potatoes. Teague’s lush, colorful paintings brim with medieval costumes and scenery, and his drily funny dialogue is good for lots of laughs. Whether the tale will produce a love for produce is anybody’s guess, but readers will undoubtedly enjoy this farm-fresh retelling. Ages 3–5. (July)