Monday, May 16, 2016

Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk is the second book in Liesl Shurtliff's Fairy Tale series.

This book changes the premise of the story. The reader is presented with the idea that giants aren't giants, but instead that Jack is an elf. Just by changing premise of the story, the actions of all the characters from the traditional tale tilt. This book opens up the universe from the previous novel Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskinbut keeps connects the stories characters consistently.

The author has upended the whole concept of the Jack stories as she did with Rump. Jack is still a mischievous child. However, he also shows a good deal more responsibility and remorse for his action in this story than he does in the traditional tales. The author sets up Jack for a different experience however. In the traditional tale, Jack's father is dead and he is struggling to help his mother keep the family going. In this story Jack's family is intact. His father is his role model and defender. Jack's father tells him stories of his Grandfather the giant killer filling his son's desire for adventure. He also is the one who reminds the mother character that a boy's high energy is natural not a sign of evil. When the giants attack and his father goes missing, this triggers Jack's trade of the cow for the magic beans that will allow him to go to the land of the giants to rescue his father. It was a small, but interesting twist to the story.

In this version Jack discovers the giants have an ecological disaster on their hands due to an overuse of magic. They have been raiding Jack's world for food as their own land has been cursed and will no longer grow. However, do to the small size of the animals and the food, they require the use of elves to help them to milk the smaller cows and to help out with tasks too small for the giants to manage.

Those who have read Rump, will soon understand who the giants really are and also understand how this problem got so bad for the kingdom. Jack's is able to help both worlds reach a satisfactory conclusion to the problem.

My criticism of the book is similar to the first novel. Jack is a much rounder character than we find in most of the traditional tales. Even some of the supporting characters are deeper than one might expect. However the villains are still not as well balanced as they could be and remain flat.

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