In a whimsical tangent on ""Jack and the Beanstalk,"" a bumbling giant cuts off his toe while hoeing cabbages; the toe becomes an elf-like, naked mite with a genius for survival.""The toe"" eats the giant's pie; the giant, annoyed, tries to put him in a pie, in a scene in a gloriously cluttered kitchen; but the toe climbs out and substitutes the resident hen. The pie is shared--though when the giant realizes he has eaten the hen that lays the golden eggs, he tries again to get rid of the toe. This time, still ""trying to help,"" the toe disposes of the giant's harp, so that when Jack turns up there are no treasures to steal. Jack goes off disgusted; toe and giant live happily ever after. This engaging diversion is much enhanced by Cole's bright watercolors, beautifully painted and full of funny details, like Jack armed with a wooden sword and garbage-can lid, and lovely vistas, like the frontispiece of the giant's home floating in ethereal clouds above the serene world below. The wry humor will be enjoyed by beginning readers, but would also be fun to share with younger children.