Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Kate and the Beanstalk

Potter, Giselle (Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster 2005. 40 pages
First published: 2000
ISBN: 9781416908180 (paperback)
9780689825507 (hardcover)
9781481419567 (e-book)
Original language: English
Dewey: 398.2
Book type: Picture Book
Book genre: Fairy Tale

Text Elements:

character, setting, structures and features

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Faced with abject poverty, Kate, “a plucky girl who loved to help,” sets out to sell her family’s only asset, their dairy cow. With the plot points of the traditional fairy tale that stars a lazy boy named Jack, this re-telling has Kate exchanging the cow for magic beans and climbing the giant beanstalk that leads to a castle in the sky. She follows the call to be a genuine heroine and defeats the resident giant who had once robbed and killed a knight, leaving a baby girl and her mother bereft of hope. All is restored in the end, when Kate realizes she is the knight’s daughter and the rightful owner of his riches. The girl who fears “nothing when I’m doing right” kills the giant and inherits the castle.

Gorgeous gouache and watercolour illustrations in a naïve folk art style fill the oversized pages with playful and offbeat imagery. Use of scale and perspective is phenomenal, with the tiny Kate pedalling an eggbeater, disguised as a male servant assisting a giantess or smuggling a harp down the vertiginous beanstalk.

Text is dense and no detail is spared in the rich and descriptive language: “She grabbed the hen and rushed from the castle. Down and down and down she climbed.” Humorous dialogue—with the giant relishing in his plunder and a reworking of his refrain to accommodate a female heroine: “Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum’un. I smell the blood of an Englishwoman”—adds to the charm.

A spirited reworking of an old familiar tale.

  •  

    Do a picture walk and describe the familiar events. Make note of any unfamiliar or unexpected elements to discuss when reading the full text.

  •  As you read, add sound effects and choral speaking to enhance the story.
  •  

    In this version, the author changes the main character of the traditional story of Jack and the Beanstalk, but keeps the setting the same. Try rewriting one scene with a different time or place setting.

  •  

    Discuss the elements of a fairy tale. What characters, settings and events can you typically find in them?

  •  

    Brainstorm what you know about this traditional story. Note your ideas on a class chart to compare and contrast after the read-aloud. Find and compare other versions of this tale.

  •  

    During a second read-aloud, add sound effects and choral speaking in the recurrent passages to better understand and enhance the story.

  •  

    In a small group, use a mind map to help you create a new version of the story. Dramatize it (add a few props or costume elements) and present it to your class.