A little bean emerges from a little pod. Meanwhile, a smallish kid named Jack keeps a cow on the family farm. But the kingdom is experiencing a drought, and King Blah Blah Blah diverts the only water, his subjects' tears, to wash—his little finger. Princess Blah Blah Blah contacts a local wizard, who zaps Jack's bean, and magic is afoot. The bean is planted, a stalk grows, and Jack and the princess ascend to meet a little boy giant, Don, who donates his bathwater to the cause. The kingdom newly drenched, Jack and the princess, now calling herself Jill, fetch a pail and that's "the end . . . sorta." Joyce and Callicutt, working together in seamless mixed media, achieve a cinematic background, with expansive, bleed-edge compositions over low horizons, on which the sprightly characters ply their magic. Dramatic spreads alternate with occasional white pages of minimal text, maintaining a crisp, fabulous pace. Children who know Jack, and children meeting him for the first time, will enjoy this brisk, bubbly, spirited outing. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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.)
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