Alternative classical nursery rhymes & fairy tales – Jack & the Beanstalk

I read nightly to my 2yo. I started singing and reading to him when he was three months old and the experience so far has really helped him to develop an obsession with reading. Recently he had the ingenious idea to delay sleep time by asking me to read one book after another (can’t fool an old dog with old tricks, ha!). So I started to limit the number of stories and rejected his requests to turn on the light again to read after lights-off. Bit of a downer to both of us since it’s wonderful that he actually likes to read!

If you would like to read a rhyming poem of Jack and the beanstalk to your child, click here.

I read a lot when I was young too but before I learned to read, it was my dad who knew how to make a story come a l i v e. I appreciate the efforts he put in back then and am relieved that my son finds my storytelling entertaining! I would use different voices when I read, I would sing some stories instead of read them and I would act out some of the scenes. I would chat eagerly whenever he brought up part of a story as a parallel to something that took place throughout the day, and I would alter the stories as I read them. It is the last bit that led to this post. I believe some parents already do this with their children – altering traditional tales to their own versions – but their versions kind of just stay within the walls of the bedroom. I would like my blog to be a starting point for further discussion and sharing. If you recite different versions of familiar tales to your children, do write me in the comments below!

A bit about me so y’all understand where I come from

My worldview leans towards the cynical. I am a great fan of conspiracy theories. I have strong opinions against oppression and patriarchy. If I am only allowed to kill off one type of bad hat that walked the face of this earth, it is paedophiles. I have also been gullible far too many times in my youth. I grew up with an English education and American television. I lived in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand followed by London, England. I shun mass media and their lies. I no longer define myself by the number of Facebook friends I have. I am closer to 40 than I am to 10. In other words, others have given up trying to correct me and I can bitch about things.

I decided to create a series out of this topic simply because there are so many stories and books to cover. This is the first of my critique. I hope you enjoy it and leave me a comment below. Your comments will really help – I read and respond to each one.

Adult version
Children version

Title: Jack and the beanstalk

Alternative classical nursery rhymes and fairy tales Jack and the beanstalk
Photo by Pixabay on Alternative of version Jack and the beanstalk. The giant is the victim and Mrs. Giant hates him.

Adult version:

Jack is portrayed as living in poverty. This justifies to the reader, a somewhat irrational inner desire to improve his humble state of being. He is obedient to his mom and seen as a simpleton as he accepted 5 miserable beans as payment for their cow. What readers do not know is that he was already delirious with hunger and eyebrows-deep in depression which is why he needed a reason not to go into the crowded marketplace.

When he presented the beans to his mom, Jack expected to get thrown out of the house. Instead, the beans were thrown out and he was only sent to bed without supper. Reflecting on this, he knew he had done something right, and now he has no fear.

When he saw a beanstalk right outside his window the next morning, he had to climb it without further questions because that’s what children (the intended audience for the original story) do. Adults commonly do not understand the lure of climbing but we can certainly suspend our patience.

Jack does not falter in his climb because those giant leaves bear his slim figure well. He discovers a castle, gray, tall and imposing and instead of scampering off because it’s much too scary, he decides to venture into the kitchen where he might be able to steal food unnoticed. Yes, like a rat would. This is where the original story takes a turn.

From here until the end of the story, the victim is clearly the giant. The subtle moral of the story is hidden to the eyes of most adults.

A wife’s happiness is worth more than all riches combined.

Mrs. Giant is no fool. She is merely an unhappy wife. Not only did she fail to stand by Mr. Giant and protect their home – Mrs. Giant continually let a stranger into the house even though she obviously knew it was Jack doing all the stealing – she literally doesn’t care anymore. She didn’t even bother to make small talk with the giant because she had given up 98 years ago.

The Giants’ home is such a mess (additional evidence that Mr. and Mrs. Giant have a failed marriage) that the only flat, cleared out surface is the kitchen table. We can infer this from the fact that that is where he tinkers with his prized possessions.

Mr. Giant has an unfortunate tendency to fall asleep due to his enormous girth and old age. He has the sleep schedule of an aged old man! Like a typical male he doesn’t put away his things after he’s done with them and Mrs. Giant is certainly not picking up after him.

Mrs. Giant did not witness Jack stealing the Giant’s belongings but after Jack’s second trip she inferred that it was Jack who did it. Despite knowing that a stranger had been stealing from them, Mrs. Giant betrayed her marital home by keeping mum about the thievery. On top of her unhappiness with her husband, Jack’s presence evoked in her the longing for her own child, who left the castle 100 years ago to seek his fortune in Giant City. Her child and the local law not allowing divorces, are the only reasons why she chose to remain Mrs. Giant.

Mr. Giant’s oblivion to his wife’s unhappiness is the most impactful reason behind his eventual downfall. From Day One to Three of Jack’s visits, he remained his obnoxious self, never asking Mrs. Giant how her day was, preferring to spend time interacting with his valuables. He was a vile, grumpy old grouch. He obviously had a soft spot for Miss Harp, because she was young, beautiful and called him Master – everything Mrs. Giant wasn’t and didn’t!

I’m not surprised if Mrs. Giant was probably happy that Mr. Giant perished. She became sole occupant of his castle yet all she wanted to do was to remain thence waiting for her son to return from the city. She didn’t realize her son had in fact joined the troop of man eating giant brutes that as a group, regularly bullied the BFG (Big Friendly Giant). Still, he may just pop in to see her someday. In her eyes, he will always be a 70 pound baby.

Back to Jack. Jack had transformed himself from being in a weak state to a supreme being all because of his strong disposition. He left his depression behind at the castle’s entrance, because he was never going to go in if he wasn’t mentally up for it. The thievery has improved his wealth and his self-worth. Since he had killed a Giant and cut off the only source of revenue he had, there is little that he will not do. After all he couldn’t go back to being poor again! Jack would later go on to discover oil reserves deep underground and became an oil tycoon. Quick and dirty ways to get rich are his cup of tea. He has always believed in taking more than in building.

Lastly, a quick note on Jack’s mom. She became a role model for all moms in the country after Jack got rich and famous. She picked a stringy, beautiful, wide eyed nymph as a wife for Jack but remained in charge behind the scenes. Although Jack killed Mr. Giant and Jack’s mom aided in the murder, Jack and his mom were never implicated in the murder of Mr. Giant. Jack silenced their neighbors and bribed their way through to innocence. In addition, as the beanstalk was chopped off soon after Jack’s escape and made into bean soup, there was no evidence that Giantland could make use of to press further charges.

If you would like to read a rhyming poem of Jack and the beanstalk to your child, click here.

Adaptation for children

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived Jack with his mom.
Jack was 14 years old and loved his mom dearly. Jack’s dad loved them both but had to work in a bigger village that was so far away he only returned once a year during Christmas.

Usually Jack would help his mom out in their tiny farm. They grew their own vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, cabbages, turnips and potatoes. They also had one cow who gave Jack plenty of fresh milk every day.

There was a serious drought in the year Jack turned 14.

A drought is a period of little or no rainfall such as vegetable crops have no water to drink and therefore perish

As a result Jack and his mom had no vegetables to eat and decided to sell away the cow to buy food from the market.

At the market, Jack sold the cow in exchange for lots of food, seeds and 5 magic beans. He brought these home and planted the seeds and beans in their garden. His mom was pleased with whatever he got back.

The next day he was amazed to see that a giant beanstalk had sprung up from the 5 magic beans. Each bean produced one stalk and the 5 stalks intertwined all the way into the sky. Jack told his mom that he wanted to explore the top of the beanstalk and his mom packed some tuna and cucumber sandwiches for him.

Up Jack went. He took a little break when he got to the middle of the beanstalk, and ate his sandwiches. The rest of time he hardly stopped climbing. By the time it was noon he was at the top of the beanstalk.

What he saw fascinated him. There was a gorgeous castle with a vast but unkempt piece of land.

Vast means very, very wide and big

Jack thought he should be polite and go and say hi to the owner of the castle. After all, he was already standing in its property.

Property are land surrounding and inside of a building such as a house

Jack went up to the main door and rapped its brass handle.

Brass is a hard metal that is shiny and resistant to changes in weather conditions

A tall lady answered the door and she smiled at Jack, introducing herself as Mrs Giant.

Jack said hello and they begun chatting. First they talked about the weather and next about Mrs Giant’s son, how he had grown up and left their castle to seek a living in the city. It was mostly Mrs Giant talking and Jack got bored. So he asked if he could use her bathroom. Mrs Giant said, “Sure!” and led him to the guest bathroom.

Jack remembered to thank Mrs Giant and was about to leave when Mr Giant returned home from moving boulders in a big project that would change how water flowed in some parts of the local river. Mr Giant was a civil engineer and told Jack about excavators, cranes and bulldozers, which Jack really liked playing with when he was a toddler.

In fact, Mr Giant was out of touch with what teenagers such as Jack liked, because Mr Giant often worked long hours and had not spent much time with his own son throughout his childhood.

Childhood are pockets of time in your life when you are curious about life on planet earth and make new discoveries and friends

Mr Giant sensed that Jack was not a child anymore even though Jack was much smaller than Mr Giant, and could be interested in more grown up stuff. Mr Giant was immensely proud of his sacks of gold, hen that laid the golden egg and the harp that could sing by herself, and Mr Giant showed them to Jack.

Jack told Mr and Mrs Giant about the drought at home, and how the sandwiches that he ate on the beanstalk here meant that his mom was going hungry.

Jack asked Mr and Mrs Giant if they needed any work done in the house as he was happy to do them in exchange for a bag of gold and some golden eggs. Mr Giant liked Jack’s good nature and agreed to let Jack have a bag of gold and the hen that laid the golden eggs if Jack cleaned up their castle plus help them fix their garden.

Jack did his best that afternoon but as there was just too much to be done Jack agreed that he would return tomorrow and every day until he fulfilled the work.

Fulfilled the work means completed the work.

Mrs Giant fed Jack dinner and Mr Giant paid Jack half a bag of gold coins so that Jack would return the next day and the next until he earned the other half bag of gold coins and the hen that laid the golden eggs.

Jack was happy to return home with his half bag of gold coins, a satisfied belly and a pleasant story to tell his mom. He had also packed a box of food from Mrs Giant for mom. He hurried home as fast as he could so that she could have it warm.

The end.

If you would like to read a rhyming poem of Jack and the beanstalk to your child, click here.


2 Replies to “Alternative classical nursery rhymes & fairy tales – Jack & the Beanstalk”

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