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Jack and the Beanstalk, An English Fairy Tale

Updated on February 17, 2020
PAINTDRIPS profile image

As a children's book illustrator, Denise has many things to say about the process, her struggles, and children's books on the market today.

J is for Jack and the Beanstalk from the children's book, The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World
J is for Jack and the Beanstalk from the children's book, The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World | Source

My Children’s Alphabet Book

If you have followed me, by now you may have noticed I created a children’s alphabet book using fairy tales for each letter of the alphabet. I could have concentrated on all the old favorites but I decided to make it a book with fairy tales and folk tales from all over the world. This particular one is an old familiar one for me, being an English fairy tale.

I like to gather photo references to work from before I begin sketching.
I like to gather photo references to work from before I begin sketching. | Source

Global Fairytales

When it hit me to be more global I had already created the pages for R is for Little Red Riding Hood and J is for Jack and the Beanstalk. The research for the global fairy tales and folk tales from all over the world certainly added to my work but in the end, it became very satisfying. This one is controversial in that Jack is a thief stealing from a giant but the underlying message was to take care of his mother.

“Fee-fi-fo-fum! I smell the blood of an English man. Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”

— The Giant
Collage progress photo.  I seem to have lost the roughs and sketches.
Collage progress photo. I seem to have lost the roughs and sketches. | Source

Jack and the Beanstalk, An English Fairytale

Jack and his widowed mother were very poor and hungry. One day his mother sent Jack to the market with the family cow to sell for food. On the way, Jack met a bean dealer who gave Jack 5 beans in exchange for the family cow. When he came home without the cow or money, his mother became very angry. In her anger, she threw the beans out the window and send Jack to bed without dinner.

During the night the magic beans grew into a giant beanstalk reaching up into the clouds. Jack climbed the beanstalk and found an enormous castle in the clouds where a giant lived.

The giant smelled Jack and said, “Fee-fi-fo-fum! I smell the blood of an English man. Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.” The giant’s wife convinced him that he was mistaken and the giant went to sleep. While sleeping, Jack stole a bag of gold from the giant and returned home.

Jack climbed the beanstalk two times more and found many treasures to steal and brought them all to his mother. Finally, when he stole the harp that played by itself, the giant awakened hearing the harp playing and chased Jack down the beanstalk. Jack’s mother brought an ax for Jack and he cut the beanstalk down making the giant fall to his death.

Jack and his mother lived happily on the riches that Jack had stolen from the giant’s castle.

Progress photo, changes to come!
Progress photo, changes to come! | Source

Collage Illustrations

I didn’t want my book to be just one more “A is for Apple” alphabet book and since I love fairy tales, why not use them instead? After deciding that, I was told I should use my collage method instead of the usual watercolor illustrations that I had originally desired. The collage took much longer but in the end, it made for a very unique book.

I hope you enjoy my process here showing the start with thumbnail sketches, then value sketch, color composition and finally, the collage. I made my little Jack a more Hispanic coloring because I didn’t want the book to be one more all-white children’s book. That wouldn’t represent the world in reality, now would it?

Progress collage photo 3
Progress collage photo 3 | Source

“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.”

— Amy Tan

Published with Lulu

This fairy tale has been shortened to fit into my book along with all the other letters of the alphabet. If you would like to read the full version, you can Google the title and find several versions of Jack and the Beanstalk, from the traditional story to several variations that have turned up over the years.

My book, The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World, was self-published last year with Lulu.com because Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) refused to allow illustrations that spanned the central gutter of the page. They demanded at least a half-inch margin around the outside, which I could have done, and a half-inch margin through the center margin, which would destroy the look and cohesiveness of the double-page illustrations. I had to find a different publisher who would allow the illustrations the way I wanted them. KDP obviously does not understand illustrated children’s picture books.

Finished collage.  Finding just the right cuteness factor is problematic.
Finished collage. Finding just the right cuteness factor is problematic. | Source

Final Thoughts

I hope you like my story and my fairy tale alphabet book idea. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Peggy Woods,

      Yes, most people have heard this one. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      10 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Jack and the Beanstalk is a fairy tale of which I was familiar. Thanks for the reminder, and for showing us another one of your fantastic collage images. You must have so much fun in creating these fairy tale images!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      16 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lawrence Hebb,

      I'm glad you think so. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      16 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Denise

      Great addition to the book.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Marie Flint,

      I love reading to children too. At one point, all the little cousins, second cousins and third cousins would swarm around me at family events and beg me to read to them from whatever book I brought that time. I read the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis to them several times as well as others. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Liz Westwood,

      I'm glad you think the illustration is good. I appreciate that. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Dora Weithers,

      It hasn't yet but I had such joy creating it that it doesn't matter if it sells or not. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Shaloo Walia,

      I'm so happy you think so. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Linda Crampton,

      I'm so appreciative of your kind comments. It makes my day.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      17 months ago from Jacksonville, FL USA

      Very nice, Denise. Keep up the good work! I love children's stories, especially when I get to read them to my grandchildren--or any child eager to listen!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      17 months ago from UK

      This is definitely a well known tale in the UK along with Goldilocks and the 3 Bears and Red Riding Hood. Top class illustrations too.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      17 months ago from The Caribbean

      Beautiful creativity! I like all of it and I hope that your labor pays off abundantly.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      17 months ago from India

      This is one of my favorite fairy tales. And your illustration is beautiful!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      17 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I remember hearing this story many times as a child. I loved reading it in your article and looking at your lovely illustrations.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Devika Primić,

      Aren't fairy tales fun? I still read them as an adult. I never grew up, I guess. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Nell Rose,

      I'm so happy you like the pictures. They take so much time I enjoy it so much. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Linda Lum,

      Thanks so much for your continued fan mail/comments. I so appreciate it.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Bill Holland,

      Thanks so much, my friend. You are a faithful encourager. I've enjoyed your 7-year-old YouTube offerings. I'm going out to do an act of kindness now.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      17 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      This title has been one of my favorite tales so glad you wrote about it. I read this story many times to my child and sometimes read it for myself.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      17 months ago from England

      You are so clever! I do wish I could draw. I have written a couple of children's books, but I have to delete and start again. Maybe try to draw the characters. Love your pictures!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lorna Lamon,

      I'm glad you like the illustrations. I loved the story too and always felt a little bad for the giant being burgled. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      MG Singh,

      Yes, Disney has done many of these fairy tales and made them famous. I wanted to get away from the Disney version and create my own take on it. That's not easy I can assure you. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      This is absolutely delightful. I love your illustration on this one.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      My thoughts are the same as they have been for every entry of this series. I absolutely love your work. Beautiful illustration, my friend.

      Blessings always

      bill

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      17 months ago

      This tale conjured up images of my mum reading it to me as a child. I remember the excitement of Jack's escape and the happy ever after ending. Your tale still brings back my enjoyment of this story Denise, complete with your wonderful illustrations. Just lovely.

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh emge 

      17 months ago from Singapore

      This is a tale which l have been reading since childhood. You have given a fresh touch to the story and made it more interesting.I remember watching a Walt Disney film as well.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      RoadMonkey,

      I would love the version where the giant's death is karma. Good twist on an old story. Thanks for telling me that.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Eric Dierker,

      Thank you. I'm glad you checked it out. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 

      17 months ago

      I always enjoyed reading Jack and the beanstalk to my children. The "fee fie fo fum" is a great character voice. One version of the story I read had the giant being the original thief who stole the money from Jack's father and causing his death, so that Jack stealing from the giant and causing his death is seen as "karma".

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      17 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Another wonderful piece about an epic tale. Makes sense it is English. Fine artwork.

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