Bad news, wolf at the door –
Jacko and Mum were very poor.
Mum sent Jacko (who’s not too shrewd).
Down to the shops to buy some food.
Never thinks, no thanks –
Jacko’s thick as three short planks.
Jacko spent all Mum’s money,
On magic seeds … that’s not funny!
Jacko and the Beanstalk transports a familiar tale to an Australian setting. Jacko is a kangaroo, the giant is a crocodile, the trickster is a dingo. Add in some Aussie language, a few variations on fee-fi-fo-fum, a few helpful geckos and cameos from other Australian animals and you have an adventure in the outback. Jack’s trip up the beanstalk is brief and his retreat swift. After Jacko has ensured that the giant is no longer a threat, Mum finds another way to secure their future. Illustrations are pencil and watercolour and offer plenty of humour. Follow the antics of the three small geckos.
Jacko is none too bright, and it’s a wonder really that Mum thought he could be trusted to spend her last cash wisely. But she does, and as any fan of this fairy tale will recognise, he is tricked into parting with his cash for some magic beans. Mum is cross, the beans are tossed then grow overnight and Jacko decides that he should travel where the beanstalk takes him. The action proceeds with ‘ticko, tacko, blicko, blacko’, ‘wham, blam, splat, blood’ and ‘fig, peach, pear, grape’ until the foe is vanquished, and life can resume it’s normal pace. Pre-schoolers will play with the rhymes, develop versions of their own as they play with sounds of words and watch the antics of both Jacko and the other characters.
Jacko and the Beanstalk, Kel Richards ill Rob Ainsworth Scholastic Australia 2013 ISBN: 9781742835389
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
Available from good bookstores or online.