Jack and his mother own an old burger truck that has seen better days, and their future looks even grimmer when Jack buys a can of baked beans with their final pennies. His mom throws the can out the truck window in anger, but to their surprise, a “baked beanstalk” grows (FYI: a baked beanstalk is a beanstalk that yields cans of baked beans instead of the regular legume). Jack climbs the stalk and meets an unconventional giant who would much rather cook lunch for friends than count all his money and has a fear of heights. In an effort to raise the giant’s satisfaction with his life, Jack invites him to come down the beanstalk with him and explore new possibilities. The giant declines, but surprising turn of events results in happy endings for all the parties involved, including the café which becomes the hopping place in town by the end of the book.
I admit I was a little skeptical when I saw this book on the shelf. A “baked beanstalk” sounded kind of cheesy, but I was glad I gave it a chance. The dreamy, whimsical illustrations were a wonderful complement to the humorous text. This retelling of the classic fairy tale is not only entertaining for picture-book readers, but it has a great message that applies to both kids and adults.
Jack and the Baked Beanstalk, by Colin Stimpson, Candlewick Press, $15.99