Kirkus Reviews QR Code
KATE AND THE BEANSTALK by Mary Pope Osborne Kirkus Star


by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Giselle Potter

Age Range: 4 - 9

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-689-82550-1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Osborne is not only the author of the wildly popular Magic Tree House series, but also a well-respected reteller of myths and folk tales (American Tall Tales, 1991, etc.). In this fairy-tale retelling, Osborne adds to the growing number of traditional tales flavored with a twist in perspective or characters. The magic beans, sky-high beanstalk, and fearsome giant are all present, but lazy Jack has been replaced by brave and resourceful Kate, who lives with her mother in desperate poverty. When Kate climbs the beanstalk, she retrieves the magical hen, golden coins, and talking harp, which she learns should rightfully belong to a knight’s deserving widow and child (guess who?), along with the giant’s castle in the clouds. Kate follows the traditional plotline of outwitting the giant and then chopping down the beanstalk, with the gruesome giant landing dead at her feet. In a proper fairy-tale coincidence, it’s the very same giant who killed Kate’s father, the brave knight who originally owned all the magical treasures. Potter (The Goodness-to-Honest Truth, 1999, etc.) has created flat, stylish paintings that manage to be both fresh and original and yet convey the atmosphere of a traditional European folk tale. The book’s attractive over-sized design includes many double-page spreads, clever integration of text within lots of illustrations, and a delightful title page with the information incorporated into leaves sprouting off the beanstalk. Magical. (source note) (Picture book. 4-9)