DeSpain (Eleven Turtle Tales, 1994, etc.) turns to the oldest known versions of this durable story for his retelling. Before killing the giant who ate his father, Jack meets and falls in love with Elinor, the monster's captive; Elinor dies trying to escape, but with the help of a magic harp returns to life and to Jack's arms at the end. Replete with tests, magic, and derring-do, DeSpain's tale is a long one; his language is sometimes elaborate, sometimes prosaic; his heroic characters are conventional and pale next to the vividly rendered giant, with his bestial table manners and poetic turns of phrase--""I'm off to bed. Another glorious day of disruption awaits the sun!"" Shlichta's paintings weaken the story further; Jack and Elinor are almost as ill-proportioned as the giant, and the climactic running battle gets but a single picture--and a small one at that. Gall Haley's Jack and the Bean Tree (1986) is still the best choice for readers in search of an alternative to the many tellings aimed at a younger audience.