Review 222. Liesl Shurtliff – Jack: the true story.

25144153Title: Jack: the true story of Jack and the beanstalk.
Author: Liesl Shurtliff.
Pages: 304.
Published: April 14th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers.
Sort: Stand-alone (sort-of companion to Rump)
Source: Netgalley; publisher, thanks!
All work and no play makes Jack extremely bored. And when Jack gets bored, he makes mischief. It’s not that he’s bad; he just longs for adventure—and there’s nothing adventurous about toiling day and night to grow yucky green stuff. Adventure finally arrives one day in the form of giants, and soon Jack is chasing them to a land beyond the clouds, with his little sister, Annabella, in tow. The kingdom of giants is full of slugs the size of sheep, venomous pixies as tall as grown men, and a chatty cook with the biggest mouth Jack has ever seen. There’s giant fun to be had, too: puddings to swim in, spoons to use as catapults, monster toads to carry off pesky little sisters. But Jack and Annabella are on a mission. The king of the giants has taken something that belongs to them, and they’ll do anything—even dive into a smelly tureen of green bean soup—to get it back.

Last year I read Rump and I enjoyed it, so when I saw this book on Netgalley I knew I had to request it. I thought this book was even better, because there was more action and adventure. Jack is, like his mother always calls him, a ‘naughty little boy’ and I thought it was a perfect portrayal of a young boy. Add pixies, elves, giants, magic, mystery and a quest for his lost father and you’ve found yourself an engaging Middle Grade story.

And don’t you just love the cover?

Jack loves mischief and people always look at him when something is wrong. So when their crop is disappearing, everyone points their fingers at Jack. He is innocent this time and when he sees his father taken by giants, Jack knows who is taking their food. Their mother doesn’t believe him, so Jack trades their cow for beans and goes after his father into the world Above. Annabelle soon meets up with him and despite Jack’s complaints, he is more than happy to have her help.

I think Liesl really captured the right voice for Jack. His personality truly felt like a playful boy who likes to trick people. He teases his little sister and he is always up for adventure. He is a likable kid and it’s great he sets out to find his father. I liked his dynamic with his family and mainly his little sister. Annabella is a sweet girl and I like that she had her own special role in the story. Her talent with animals and Pixies definitely helped in the quest to save their father.

The world Above is detailed and vivid. I liked how she set up the giant world and the people who live there. Jack’s new ‘mother’ Martha was adorable and this is one of the first times where not all giants are evil. We only have to deal with the King who is destroying two worlds with his greed. The conclusion to this problem was nicely done. It was perfect for the tone of the story; that you don’t have to be heroic to be a hero.

This is a wonderful book to read together with your children, but it also delivers enough to enjoy if you are older.


  1. Beautiful cover, I agree. Never heard of the book before. Sound lovely :)

  2. Aww this sounds like such a cute read Mel, I'm not usually one to read middle grade books, but I like the author's different take on this especially with the giant not being evil. Thanks for putting this one on my radar!

  3. Aw, gorgeous review Mel. <3 I'm so glad you liked this book, despite not fully loving it :) I think it looks so cute; and yess. The cover is awesome :D But haven't really fully wanted to read this book :p Just a bit unsure about the plot, hih. Though Jack do sound awesome. I'm glad you liked it :) Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

  4. I agree, the cover for this one is gorgeous and I love how it sounds from your review here^^ It's too bad it didn't win you over fully but at the same time it sounds like it was a fun read all the same. I love books that might have been written with younger audiences in mind but still work and are satisfying enough for adult readers too :)

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

  5. I'm not sure if this is my type of book, but Jack sounds like a quirky character! Fun little tricksters make up some of my favorite MG characters. :) Fabulous family dynamics always gets bonus points.

    'You don't have to be heroic to be a hero.' --Love this!

  6. Sounds cute!I don't normally read MG novels,but I am currently on a mission to make my little cousin read,and I am looking for books that we might read together.And this one sounds perfect!
    Lovely review Mel!

  7. I do, I do love the cover! It's so cute. I'll definitely have to keep this author on my radar - sounds like she writes fun stories!

  8. I like the development for Jack in this book, he sounds like a lot of fun as does the World Above. Wonderful review Mel, a great one for the young ones.


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