February 18, 2013


Posted in Book Reviews, Picture Books tagged , , at 9:11 pm by catsinboxes

~A post for Project Fairytale 

Back on a day when the internet was working and not being patchy and slow, I was searching our library website for different versions of Jack and the Beanstalk.  This title caught my attention since firstly, it didn’t contain some form of “Jack” in the title, and secondly, it was by Allan Ahlberg.  So, I put it on hold.

If you aren’t familiar with Allan Ahlberg, or his late wife Janet, you are missing out on a treat!  Their books are characterized by sweet stories and charming illustrations.  The best thing about Allan Ahlberg though is that he understands what a child enjoys in a story.  Previously is a perfect example of this.

The premise is intriguing, the whole books is told backward.  And it’s not all about Jack; in fact it begins with Goldilocks!  Hard to understand?  This is how the book starts:

“Goldilocks arrived home all bothered and hot.  Previously she had been running like mad in the dark woods.  Previously she had been climbing out of somebody else’s window. ”

And before that, we all know what she was doing.  But what we don’t know is that before Goldlilocks invaded the bears’ house, while she was walking through the woods, she met a much older boy who was ‘running like mad’ and that boy was . . . Jack.

And so the story continues with Jack and what he was doing previously before moving on to other well-known fairytale characters.  (In a fun twist of fairytale and nursery rhyme, it turns out that before selling the cow, Jack was up the hill with his argumentative little sister Jill!)

Previously is a whimsical picture book.  Though it’s not entirely about Jack and the Beanstalk, I thought it was worthy of review for Project Fairytale.  There is something very sweet in the story which goes from tongue-in-cheek at the beginning to almost lyrical in the last pages.  Any Anglophile will love the British-ness of some of the expressions.  (When does an American author say ‘all bothered and hot’?)  Most importantly though, Previously is a children’s book, and it will be loved by children.  The first time I read it, I was not sure how to take the idea.  Then I looked at my 5-year-old brother, who had been listening.  A grin was spreading across his face, and he chuckled.  When asked, “Do you like it?”  he heartily agreed.  And whenever we read it, he’ll smile and say, “It’s funny because it’s always, ‘previously.’”  And indeed it is!


Happy Cat

Posted in Cats, Humor, Just Life at 9:18 am by catsinboxes

Enough said!

Enough said!

February 4, 2013

Project Fairy Tale: Jack and the Beanstalk

Posted in Blogging, Books, Fairytales tagged , at 9:40 pm by catsinboxes

When I read Alison’s idea for Project Fairy Tale, a couple months ago, I thought it would be fun to jump in.  I chose Jack and the Beanstalk, partly because some of my other favorites were already taken, and partly because I thought it would be fun to dig a little bit into Jack and the Beanstalk.

It was some time later, while watching the trailers that led up to The Hobbit, that I realized I had chosen a fairytale which is about to hit the big screen!  I’m not quite sure what to make of the movie judging by the trailers, but it does seem like a nice action flick if you’re in the mood for some fantasy.

As for the the real Jack (I like it shortened, don’t you?)  I’ll soon be reviewing three different versions of the fairytale, but here are two tidbits I have discovered.

There are two standard versions of Jack.  In one, Jack finds out from a fairy that the giant killed his father and sets off on a quest for vengeance and rightfully taking back what is his.  In the other, which Andrew Lang stuck with, Jack just discovers the beans and then sets off to raid the giant.  It seems from a quick perusal of facts that some traditionally have found this objectionable: a small annoying boy bothering a peaceful giant.  To which I respond, since when have giants been peaceful?  This giant is tromping around fee-fi-fo-fumming and eating Englishman!  Why shouldn’t Jack do a little bit of light-fingered work while he’s visiting?

And, one more clarification.  While the movie is most definitely about Jack and the Beanstalk . . .

The name is that of another fairytale.  Yes, the main character is also named Jack, and yes, he does kill giants, but relying on a memory of fairytales read long ago, this Jack does not have a beanstalk.  More about that later!