Moonbot Studios collaborators Joyce and Callicutt royally fracture the familiar folk tale in this high-concept romp.
A cheeky narration, played for laughs, introduces a “smallish kid with the smallish name of Jack” in a drought-stricken kingdom. When the king, dirty as anyone, demands his subjects cry enough tears to wash his “stinky” pinky toe, the embarrassed young princess implores the “local old wizard guy” to “PAH-LEEZE, do something magical.” The wizard reads, thinks, draws, does some math and magic—and zaps a bean (who’s then able to verbalize its own planting instructions) off to Jack. The resultant vine’s so thick it dominates a double-page spread. Jack, climbing with Bean (now a pod—no botany lesson here), encounters a “smallish giant kid named Don” taking a leisurely bath. When bath and visit end, Jack returns via tub drain. Joyce and Callicutt’s accomplished multimedia visuals show ensuing waterfalls (which render the king’s pinky “unstinky”) and rainfall, lubricating the kingdom once more. The pictures are both epic (see the tub’s prodigious plumbing) and infused with minutiae: A talismanic redheaded bird accompanies Jack throughout. Bean’s word balloons are leaf-shaped; Jack’s, like his shepherd’s staff. In some sly concluding business, Jack invites the princess (“you can call me Jill”) up the hill to fetch water for thirsty Bean. “The End…sorta.”
Engrossing illustrations and quirky humor, hitched to Joyce’s renown, will earn this its audience. (Picture book. 4-8)