Jack and the Beanstalk

March 27, 2011

With all the fairy tales out there that seem to favor the girls (Cinderella, Snow White, Goldilocks, and the like), this mom of three boys was happy to be able to write about Jack and the Beanstalk! Jack and the Beanstalk has many elements that a young boy will love: treasure, a giant, and a daring escape!

In the traditional tale, Jack sells his family's cow for a few magic beans, much to his mother's dismay. The beans sprout into a tall beanstalk that leads to a giant's castle. Jack climbs the beanstalk and steals the giant's treasure (often a goose that lays a golden egg), narrowly escapes down the beanstalk, and cuts it down before the giant can get down to him. Sounds pretty boy friendly to me!

This story has been around since the late 1800s and continues to be popular thanks to many re-tellings. Mickey and the Beanstalk, anyone? That's certainly the version that sticks out most in my mind, though chances are preschoolers are more familiar with the story's appearance on the PBS series Super Why!. There are also a version by popular children's author Steven Kellogg and even a version staring kid-favorite Little Critter!

While a book about a boy who disobeys his mother (by the selling the cow when he shouldn't) and then steals something that is not his (the giant's treasure) may not seem like something you would be too keen on sharing with your child, there still are some lessons to be learned. Older versions include the fact that the treasure actually belonged to Jack's father and Jack was told this by a fairy after climbing the beanstalk. Changes the story around a bit, now doesn't it? The Super Why! version gives the tale a wonderful spin. It portrays the giant as being grumpy and Jack must learn how to deal with the grumpiness. That's certainly a good life skill to have!

Fee, fi, fo fum, what if you want a slightly different tale that is also fun? A girl takes on Jack's role in Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osborne. The giant tries to get his chicken back from Jack (and it takes some time for him to find the correct Jack) in The Giant and the Beanstalk by Diane Stanley. Texas has their own spin on the classic tale with Waynetta and the Cornstalk: A Texas Fairy Tale by Helen Ketteman. With all the fun re-tellings and variations, there's surely one that will appeal to you and your family.

From the Parents

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