With a storyteller in yellow and green who sets us off on a well-paced tale, this story is rich in description and has enough depth for the 3-7 age group rather than being too heavily trimmed down: there are a couple of paragraphs per page, so six or eight decent length sentences.
As well as covering everything you'd expect in the well-known version, there are touches of additional interest and intrigue, particularly in the pictures, which my children comment on over and over again: wacky hats, minibeasts underground as the beans grow, assorted keys, and rows and rows of bulging sacks.
I grew up on "I smell the blood of an Englishman" and I'm always disappointed by the different giant wordings in newer versions. In this book he calls Fee Fo Fi Fum, I smell the blood of a stinky man - I leave you to make your own judgement on this.
Sharkey's stylized funky illustrations are tailored to the traditional through the use of a muted colour palette, greens, browns and creams with orange and purple, teamed with a rich forest-teal, harking back to an era gone by. I love the changing facial expressions of the golden goose and harp.
The giant is a big cumbersome creature with a jutting lower jaw and an impossibly dim-witted expression.He chases Jack to the top of the beanstalk and, with a smidgeon of twist, Jack cleverly catapults him from the beanstalk into space (complete with bean-shaped planets) with a BOINNNNGGGGG....... which my boys think is hysterical.
All in all, a brilliant contemporary take on this classic tale.