Jack and the Beanstalk and the French Fries by Mark Teague (review)
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Reviewed by
Teague, Mark Jack and the Beanstalk and the French Fries; written and illus. by Mark Teague. Orchard/Scholastic, 2017 [40p]
ISBN 978-0-545-91431-4 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R 5-8 yrs

When Jack trades his cow for magic beans, the entire town benefits as, to their surprise, the beans yield the tallest and most fruitful beanstalk they have ever seen. The townspeople become creative with how to use the endless flow of free beans, but they all grow tired of the legume to the point that Jack decides the only solution is to cut down the beanstalk; however, before doing so, he climbs the stalk and encounters a grumpy giant who is just as sick of beans as Jack. What ensues is an almost perilous encounter between Jack and the giant who in the end team up to devise a mouthwatering plan for a garden that will afford them a break from beans and that might make Jack’s dream of French fries a reality. With its bold illustrations—which bleed to the edges and span both pages—and lively dialogue, the title is a satisfying readaloud, and children will enjoy chanting its repeated refrain of “No more beans!” Embedded in this chant, and the town’s overall attitude towards beans, is the idea that they are too much of a good thing, but this idea is balanced when Jack reaps an enormous and diverse harvest and invites the [End Page 39] giant and townspeople to share in a “delicious and nutritious” feast, complete with French fries. Subtle aspects of the illustrations will engage attentive audience members who may, for example, notice the framed photographs of other fairy-tale protagonists hanging in Jack’s home or delight in locating Jack’s loyal cat, who is featured in each illustration. Teague’s artistic style, evident in the rich, lush colors and curved lines that capture the characters’ energy, make this a wonderfully tasty take on the classic fairy tale.

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