cover image A Bean, a Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack

A Bean, a Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack

William Joyce and Kenny Callicutt. S&S/Atheneum, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-4424-7349-2

Joyce (The Numberlys) dispenses with the scarier parts of Jack and the Beanstalk (no “Fee fi fo fum” here), stringing old and new elements together with chatty narration and dialogue. In this version, there’s a drought in the kingdom where Jack lives, a special problem for the royal court: “The king’s royal pinky had become stinky.” Joyce and newcomer Callicutt give their cast rounded heads that make them resemble Playmobil figures, including the bearded wizard whose ultralong beard deposits a talking bean in Jack’s hand. “Hey, I’m a smallish magic bean,” the bean says. “Hey, I’m a smallish regular kid,” says Jack. The beanstalk leads to a “smallish giant kid named Don” whose overlong bath is responsible for the drought (“So Don...” “Yeah, Jack?” “Been in the tub long?”). Fast pacing and fresh visuals provide continuous laughs and entertainment as Joyce and Callicut drive home a lighthearted message that smallish kids (and beans) can bring about big change. As a bonus, the ending suggests that additional fairy-tale reimaginings could be in store—here’s hoping. Ages 3–6. Agent: Michael Siegel, Michael Siegel & Associates. (Oct.)