cover image Jack and the Giant: A Story Full of Beans

Jack and the Giant: A Story Full of Beans

Jim Harris. Rising Moon Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-87358-680-1

Harris (The Three Little Javelinas) takes a crack at a classic tale's makeover and gives it a Western spin. Impoverished Jack, a young cowpoke, trades his cow for a bag of magic beans and chewing gum that a peddler has already chewed for three weeks. Climbing the stalk that appears overnight when his mother throws the beans out the window, Jack reaches an adobe castle in the sky, inhabited by an oversized outlaw named Wild Bill Hiccup, who roars: ""Yippee yi yay,/ Yippee yi yeeew/ I smell the boots/ of a buckaroo!"" After some silly, rambling exchanges with the giant, Jack escapes with a lasso that turns objects into gold and a buffalo that expels solid gold chips. A few fun puns will hit home for adults (Jack's ma is Annie Okey-Dokey and they live in a ranch called Bar None), but much of the scatological humor seems gratuitous (e.g., the chewing gum, the buffalo chips and Jack hits the trail ""just as the sun clear[s] Bad Luck Butte""). Harris's hyperbolic (and sometimes garish) cartoons do little to ground the attempt at parody. Young Westerners may appreciate the local jokes, but this may be a bit too over-the-top for most of the picture-book set. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)