Kate and the Beanstalk


By Mary Pope Osborne, Illustrated by Giselle Potter

Atheneum Books, 2000

Kate was a plucky girl who loved to help. “Don’t worry,” she said, giving her mother a hug. “I’ll take care of everything.” And she set out for market with their cow.

This magical retelling of  “Jack and the Beanstalk” comes courtesy of Mary Pope Osborne, the acclaimed author of the Magic Treehouse series. Instead of Jack buying magic beans and outwitting a foul-tempered giant, it’s brave Kate. Osborne’s rounded out the story with an exasperated giantess who must serve up wagonloads of bacon and mountains of hash every morning, and a benevolent Queen of the Fairies working behind the scenes. The Kahlo-ish illustrations have fun with the giant’s great size. (The gold coins he so lovingly counts are the size of chocolate chips.) My only complaint is the bizarre — and quite offensive — smell of… feet emanating from my library copy. Surely librarians are trained to notice and neutralize such odors?

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