Jack and the Baked Beanstalk discussion guide








 Author: Colin Stimpson

Illustrator: Colin Stimpson

Publisher: Templar

Suggested Year Group: year 5


In a 1950s-style future, Jack and his mum run a little burger van cafe. The cafe is close to broke because of the new flyover, so when Jack comes home with only an old can of baked beans in return for their last few pennies, his mother throws it out of the window. Overnight it grows into a gigantic baked beanstalk, which takes Jack to the castle of a giant who spends his life counting his huge fortune.

Jack helps the giant to find something more fun to do - namely becoming the celebrity chef at Jack's new world-famous cafe.

Rationale for Selection

Jack and the Baked Beanstalk is an unusual retelling of a classic fairy tale. The illustrations are rich and detailed with film like qualities. This story could inspire further retellings by the class set in different historical contexts.

Points for Discussion:

Before Reading:

  • Check that pupils are familiar with the traditional version of Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Do they know of other re-tellings of fairy tales (e.g. 'The Frog Prince Continued', 'Snow White in New York')
  • Exploret the illustrations on the front and back cover what can pupils say about the setting and the type of retelling it might be.

During Reading

Spend some time looking at the first double page spread.
  • What can you say about the setting?
  • What details have been included to help set the scene (note the clothes the people are wearing and the buildings in the background
What kind of people are Jack and his mother?
  • What effect might the flyover have on the café? Will people still come and if not, why not?
  • What could Jack and his Mother do to help revive their fortunes?
  • Do you think Jack is foolish to buy the baked beans?
  • How would the story be different if he had bought coffee beans?
  • How do you think the man acquired the beans in the first place?
  • When Jack climbs the beanstalk he discovers a castle with a dollar sign.
  • What does this tell you about the building and who lives there?
  • At first Jack is scared of the giant. How do the illustrations create the impression that the giant is frightening?
  • Whose money is the giant counting? What happens to the money when it has been counted?
  • The hen tells Jack that the giant hasn’t cooked for anyone else for a long time.
  • Who else do you think has been up there and how did they get there?
  • What is the message of the story and is it different from the message in 'Jack and the Beanstalk'?


Copyright: Just Imagine Story Centre Ltd

All rights reserved.

These notes may be printed freely for use in classrooms but may not be reproduced in any other format without the permission of the author.


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