Review Blog

Nov 26 2013

Jacko and the Beanstalk by Kel Richards

cover image

Ill. by Rob Ainsworth. Scholastic  Australia, 2013. ISBN  9781742835389.
Jacko and the Beanstalk joins the list of classic children's stories given an Australian twist. Designed for a preschool audience, the rollicking rhymes and brightly coloured illustrations will appeal to parents and children alike.
Jacko is a young kangaroo who, in the tradition of Jack, buys magic seeds instead of food from a sly dingo. The seeds develop into a massive beanstalk, which Jacko climbs to find a giant croc at the top. The croc chases Jacko down the beanstalk which Jacko chops down causing the demise of the croc. Still poor but smart an enterprising Mum makes her fortune from broad bean pickles.
The real joy of the book is in the rhymes which not only reflect an older Australian idiom for example Jacko is described as 'thick as three short planks' and later runs 'down the plant like a bandicoot' , but also references the Fee, fi, fo, fum line of the original story on almost every page. From 'Fo, fum, fee, fay' to 'Hip, hop, flip, flop', it is not surprising then that 'Fee, fi, fo, fossie!' is celebrated with large print as the giant croc threatens 'I smell the blood of a juicy Aussie.'
This version is not for the faint hearted as the croc is depicted in garish colours, salivating with vicious teeth as he prepares to devour Jacko, and obviously dies when he falls creating a crater. I do love the final picture of Jacko though as he reads a pamphlet entitled 'How to Grow Anything from Seeds by Trik Stir' as he contemplates a display of Jelly Bean packets.
Sue Keane

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