by Liesl Shurtliff
First sentence: “When I was born, Papa named me after my great-great-great-great-great-great-GREAT-grandfather, who, legend had it, conquered nine giants and married the daughter of a duke.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy snagged off the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: It’s pretty basic and a slim book, though it’s definitely above a beginning chapter level. Give it to those who aren’t ready for longer, more involved books. It’s in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.
Jack has spent his whole life on his parents’ rinky dink farm, hearing tales of his great-grandpa’s exploits. He’s sick and tired of growing wheat; he wants to see the world! He wants to do something grand!
So, when crops, animals, and buildings (not to mention people, including Jack’s father) in his village go missing, stolen by the giants in the sky (which his mother scoffs at), Jack figures this is his chance to make a difference. Three magic beans later, he climbs the beanstalk to find (and rescue) his dad.
What he finds is a giant nation in peril.H There’s a tyrant for a king who covets gold and taxes his people until they can’t pay any more. And there’s a famine on, which is why the king’s henchmen are stealing the food from the “elves” (non-giant people) and making them their slaves. Jack knows he needs to put a stop to all this, but what can one boy do?
It gets more complicated when Jack’s younger sister joins him up in giant land. They almost get trampled, they get taken by pixies, and Jack must learn to listen to and trust his younger sister and his friends if he’s ever going to get back home.
It’s not a bad book, and I did enjoy the nice twist on the Jack and the Beanstalk Tale. But it was just okay in the end. There were Lessons Learned and Adventures Had and Reunions and it just kind of all fell flat. But, that doesn’t mean a fairy-tale loving kid wouldn’t just love this to death.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)