JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

Walker’s modernized retelling of Jack’s adventure up the beanstalk makes a fine counterpoint to the Beneduce/Spirin collaboration (see review, above); it’s been tamed and trimmed to a jaunty pace and filled with lively humor. All of the standard elements are present: Jack, his mother, the cow, the beans. There have been changes, however, e.g., Jack has lost his nationality, with blood that no longer smells of an Englishman. The objects of his desire—the sack of gold, the goose, and the harp—are hauled away in one clean sweep, rather than a daring, maturing series of raids. He also takes the old crone who lives with the giant, adding a touch of virtue. Finally, the beanstalk is not chopped down, but used as a catapult to hurl the giant into galactic orbit. Thus beveled and streamlined, the tale has lost some of its pungency, but, with artwork that has the color quality of old frescoes, and characters full of personality (even with dots for eyes), this remains a rousing adventure. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-902283-13-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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THE LOST BOY AND THE MONSTER

Strete pens an ode to tolerance that is none too subtle, but the stunning artwork from Johnson and Fancher should keep viewers involved. The story is a parable couched as a Native American tale, in which a boy (identified by Strete as lost and without a name, although why this is important is never made clear) comes across a rattlesnake and a scorpion, both of whom wonder why the boy doesn’t kill them: “Why should I do that? Snakes belong in this world just like me.” Scorpions, too, the boy chirps. The venomous critters adopt the boy as a brother and when he gets trapped by the Old Foot Eater, a monster who lives in a medicine basket on top of a tree, catching his quarry with a sticky rope, the rattlesnake and scorpion come to his rescue and seal the monster’s doom. Good deeds fly thick and fast here, but without context. The illustrations draw their hues from the American southwest, while the paint is scratched to convey a sense of age and animation, and the monster is a ghoulish, block-headed, spine-chilling delight. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-22922-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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MAMA AND ME AND THE MODEL T

PLB 0-688-15299-6 The Searcys and the Longs (Mountain Wedding, 1996) return in this deep-South, mountain-valley duel of the sexes. Mandy Searcy tells about the arrival of a Model T on the farm. Mr. Long, Mandy’s stepfather, has just purchased the vehicle and is showing it off to the extended family. He calls the boys over for a closer inspection of the wondrous machine. “Cars are for boys,” chirps one boy, looking for trouble. “Girls just ride,” chides another. Mrs. Searcy thinks otherwise. She brushes past the protesting Mr. Long, commandeers the car, and races off with Mandy in the death seat. “We bobbed across a stump at the edge of the yard and ran over a crape of myrtle bush—Mama flattened a pine sapling before tearing through the pasture fence and shimmying over a hill.” It is one lovely rural landscape Mrs. Searcy explores at high speed, depicted in autumn splendor in Rand’s watercolors. This boisterous tip of the hat toward equality of the sexes is as fit and funny as a family story ought to be. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-15298-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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