cover image Jack and the Baked Beanstalk

Jack and the Baked Beanstalk

Colin Stimpson. Candlewick/Templar, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5563-1

Illustrator Stimpson’s (How to Cook Children) authorial debut gives Jack and the Beanstalk a needed overhaul, infusing the story with humor, warmth, and an evocative Depression-era setting. Jack’s mother runs a down-on-its-luck food truck turned diner, and the giant becomes a chatty, suspenders-wearing miser with a secret yen to be a chef. Moments when the story is gentled are the most rewarding. “Are you sure you won’t come with us?” Jack asks the giant as he’s leaving for home, joined by a chicken and a talking radio that resembles the Chrysler Building. “You could chase us!” Stimpson’s digital artwork looks like a series of movie stills, exploiting edgy, provocative angles. A towering, spiraling beanstalk shoots into the sky; the giant’s banklike brick home looms large; Jack and his dog perch on piles of gold coins, watching the giant wield his knife and fork. Stimpson’s happy ending features a splendid spread of the shiny diner, its gargantuan new chef, and even two steam shovels that look a lot like Mike Mulligan’s. A lovely if ambitious bedtime readaloud whose cinematic artwork enthralls. Ages 3–6. (July)