It's strongly patterned, like a folktale; repetitive, like a folktale; rhythmic, like a folktale; and it pits a guileless innocent against three rogues--like a folktale. But all the marshaling of standard devices does not breathe any life into this concocted yarn. Strong John's poor mother ostensibly has ""no more bread"" and ""no more butter."" For three years he works, in turn, for three dastards who pay him with worthless goods--which John, now seeking employment at the castle (and suddenly turning clever), presents to the queen in answer to her needs: the skinny goose can walk, honking, in front of the queen--instead of a trumpeter--to let people know she's coming; the scrap of rope can hold her crown on (""She had never seen a rope before""); the rusty cannon (!) can help ""cut the corn."" John is rewarded with ""gold and silver and diamonds and pearls""--and ""bread and butter for his poor old mother"" (who, reasonably, should have perished long since); and when the three rogues, seeking even finer rewards (?), present the queen with ""gold and silver and diamonds and pearls,"" they get back ""the goose, the rope, and the rusty, dusty cannon."" Pure pretense, and even at that implausible.