Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Jack and the Baked Beanstalk  

by Colin Stimpson
Published: 2012

Awards: 2013 Comstock Read Aloud Honor Book, starred reviews in both Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus.

Jack and the Baked Beanstalk  is a fractured fairytale that needs to be in your mentor text collection for reading and/or writing workshop!  

The story is an updated version of Jack and the Beanstalk, with its own new, fun twists and changes from the original.

In Reading Workshop, students will be able to compare and contrast the two stories by characters, settings, events and final resolution. Summarizing and analyzing the differences will help them understand the story and its nuances. Predicting (a strategy that should be worked on as a class when the book is initially read as a read-aloud), inferring and questioning Jack’s and the Giant’s motives are all excellent strategies that can be worked into this mentor text. Because of the similarities to the original tale, it would be a good book for students to read that need extra practice with reading fluency.

For Writing Workshop, Jack and the Baked Beanstalk, is an excellent model for branching out from an original fairytale and recreating the story with different twists in the characters, setting, events and plot. Stimpson uses detailed elaboration in describing the castle, the giant, the chicken, among other things and that elaboration helps the reader-writer to understand the differences from the original tale. It would be a good model for character study ( comparing the old and new Jack and the old and new Giant). I think many students will be inspired by this version and motivated and excited to create a fracture fairytale of their own!

Jack and the Baked Beanstalk is artist Colin Stimpson’s first authored children’s books (he has illustrated several previous to this one).  The illustrations are detailed and elaborate.  Be sure to spend time with your class taking in the fine points of the illustrations.  This teaching strategy always, always helps our strugglers and reluctant readers—giving them needed scaffolding in understanding and enjoying a story.

Book Talk
Jack and his mother lived in and ran a fast food burger truck at the edge of a busy city.  Business and life was good for them and they were happy.  The city decided to build a huge overpass over the food truck that would eventually cause traffic to bypass the food truck. At first, they did not feel the effects of the overpass on their business,as the construction workers would always eat there, but eventually, business came to a screeching halt.

They had very little food and very little money left.  Out of desperation, Jack’s mother sent him to town with some change to buy some more coffee beans. "Everyone needs a good cup of coffee," she said.

By chance, Jack ran into a very mysterious man, who offers him a can of magic baked beans for the money. Since baked beans are Jack’s all-time favorite, he happily bought them!  He was so excited to share the news with his mother.

The mother, of course, is furious, threw the can of baked beans out the window and sent Jack to bed without supper.

In the morning, Jack woke up to the sight of a beanstalk reaching up into the clouds.  He and his dog, Bella, climbed it to the top and found a huge castle at the very top.

Some favorite lines:
“Early the next morning, Jack woke up to find his room bathed in a curious green light. Strange branches twisted in through the wind.A the end of each shoot dangled a silver can of baked beans! 
“It’s a magic baked beanstalk.” Jack whispered to Bella, trying not to wake his mother. “If I remember right, there should be heaps of treasure at the top!”
After hurriedly eating a breakfast of the best beans he had ever tasted, Jack crept outside.”

Jack and Bella snuck under the door of the castle and immediately they saw a Giant counting money as he roared:

The Giant spotted Jack and his dog and scooped them up in his hand. He laid them on the table—and he seemed very pleased to have guests! The Giant decided to make Jack some lunch, got some golden eggs from the hen, and while listening to his favorite radio to while he cooked, he made a huge, delicious omelet to share with Jack. 

The Giant, Jack, the Hen and Bella, had an enjoyable lunch. Jack tried to convince the Giant to join he and his mother in the city—they could use his wonderful cooking skills in the Fast Food Truck. However, the Giant was afraid of heights and decided he couldn’t go down the beanstalk. The Hen and the Radio decided to join Jack and Bella and the Giant gave them his blessing to start a new life.

But as the Giant leaned over the baked beanstalk to wave good-bye, he accidentally fell to the ground far below!

When he did, he landed on top of—-and destroyed—the big overpass that was taking traffic and business away from the fast food truck.

In the end, the Giant joined Jack and his mother as a cook, the Hen laid eggs for the omelets, the Radio played great music for all the customers who had returned and everyone lived happily every after together!

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre:  Fairytale (fractured)
Reading Workshop Strategies: Predicting, Questioning, Inferring, Summarizing, Analyzing, Fluency
Writing Workshop Genre and Strategies: Fairytale, Narrative, Inspiring Writers, Elaboration, Character Study, Boy Hook

Colin Stimpson’s website:

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