Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Tales of Jack

I've been toying with an idea for a picture book. The inspiration came from my niece's Venus Flytrap. So I've been taking a look at some picture books. Venus Flytraps are like beanstalks but different, so I started with a book I thought was going to be about Jack and the Beanstalk.

Jack Outwits the Giants illustrated and adapted by Paul Brett Johnson is what is known as a Jack Tale. In an author's note, Johnson explains that Jack Tales came to America in the 18th Century with European settlers. They're about a crafty boy, usually named Jack, and they're common in Appalachia.

That's all very interesting, at least to this adult. But the giants involved in this particular Jack Tale are stupid, and Jack is one-dimensional. His solutions to the 3 problems he faces come out of nowhere. That may be the case with the traditional Jack Tales, but 21st Century children may expect a little more depth.

A couple of interesting related sites deal with covers of books dealing specifically with Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack/Giant classroom activities.

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