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Jac and the Beanstalk

Susanna Hill, Illustrated by Jane Sirinek

Jac and the Beanstalk written by Susanna Hill. Illustrated by Jane Sirinek Illustration ©2011 Jackson Fish Market Jackson Fish Market, LLC. 1425 Broadway #448, Seattle, WA 98122 All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. First digital edition published 2011 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data ISBN-13: 978-1-936093-62-5 Once upon a time, Jacqueline, known as Jac, lived in a tiny cottage with her mother. They were so poor they had nothing to eat but the milk from their cow, Milkshake. Jac was smart and loved to read, but she and her mother were too poor to buy books, and their village had no library. “I wish I had something new to read,” said Jac. “I wish we had something new to eat,” said her mother. Then one morning, Milkshake stopped giving milk. “We’ll have to sell her,” said Jac’s mother sadly. Jac led Milkshake off to market, but she did not try to sell her. Jac was smart. She had read the story. She knew she’d be much better off trading the cow for magic beans. She searched the marketplace until she found the Bean Man. “Mr. Bean Man,” she said. “I will trade you Milkshake for five magic beans.” “Done,” said the Bean Man. Jac gave Milkshake a pat goodbye and went home with her beans. When her mother saw the beans she said, “Ooh! We can make bean soup!” “No, Mom!” said Jac. ”These are magic beans. They won’t do us any good in soup!” She hurried outside and planted the beans before her mother could suggest bean cake. When Jac awoke the next morning, a huge beanstalk had grown outside her window, just as she had known it would. “Okay, then,” said Jac. “Fee-fi-foe-fum, ready or not, here I come!” Up the beanstalk she scampered. “Whew!” she said when she reached the top. “That was some climb! I am seriously hungry!” Fortunately, the road before her led straight to a huge, rich-looking castle. Jac knocked on the massive door. It was opened by an enormous woman who looked like it had been a long time since her last bath. “What,” said the woman. “I’m very hungry,” said Jac. “Could you please spare some food?” The woman, who wasn’t a bad sort even though she didn’t bathe much, invited Jac inside. Jac could not help noticing that the castle was very messy. Dirty dishes overflowed the sink. Cobwebs covered the windows, and dust coated every surface. So much junk was piled everywhere that Jac wondered how the giants got around. But the woman was kind enough to give Jac a hunk of bread, a chunk of cheese, and a jug of milk. “Thank you,” said Jac. Just then, the castle began to shake. The huge woman sighed. “That’s my husband,” she said. “No doubt he’s hungry.” She opened a cupboard and pulled out a loaf of bread as big as Jac’s house. The giant stormed into the kitchen. “Fee-fi-foe, fum, if you’ve got breakfast, gimme some!” he roared. The giant sat at the table with a mountainous plate of bread and jam. While he ate, he counted his bags of gold coins. Jac looked at all those bags of coins. She knew even one would be a big help to her and her mother. The giant had so many — he couldn’t possibly miss just one little bag. When the giant looked the other way, PluNk, Jac dropped one bag of coins down the front of her dress. “Hey!” roared the giant when he finished counting. “Someone stole a bag of coins!” He glared at Jac. “Was it you?” “I don’t see how you can keep track of anything in this house,” said Jac. “Your bag of coins could be anywhere. Just look at this mess! When was the last time you cleaned?” The giant couldn’t argue. “Well,” he grumbled, “maybe you’re right. Still, you look fatter than before.” “It’s just the giant-sized snack your kind wife gave me,” said Jac. “I’m not used to eating so much.” “Hmmphh!” said the Giant. He went back to shoveling bread and jam into his mouth. “Why do you look so sad?” she asked the hen. “I have no chicks,” said the hen, fluffing her red-gold feathers. “The giant takes all my eggs.” “Outrageous!” said Jac. “Do you get days off?” “Never,” said the hen. “No hen should be treated that way!” declared Jac. “What can I do?” asked the hen. “Stop laying,” said Jac. “Leave the rest to me.” “Wife!” roared the giant. “Bring my hen!” But when he ordered the hen to lay, she just sat there and looked at him. “Useless!” hollered the giant. “What am I supposed to do with a worthless hen?” “I’ll take her off your hands, sir,” said Jac. “You’re right, there’s no point feeding a worthless hen.” “I could eat her,” said the giant thoughtfully. The hen looked horrified! “Why bother?” asked Jac quickly. “She’s such a tiny morsel for a guy like you, she’d probably just get stuck in your teeth.” “Fine,” said the giant. Jac tucked the shaking hen safely under her arm and looked about for the harp. She knew the giant would ask for it soon, and she needed a plan. The harp wouldn’t fit down her dress. Ah, there it was in the corner. It was the only thing in the house not covered with dust. Its mahogany frame glowed a rich, dark brown, and its silver strings glittered in the light. Quick as a wink, Jac loosened the strings. “Wife!” shouted the giant. “Bring my harp! I’m tired!” But when he ordered the harp to play, it was all off tune. The words it sang were so warbled no one could understand them. The giant covered his ears. “What a horrible noise!” he complained. “How am I supposed to sleep?” “I can help,” said Jac. She climbed up the bookshelf and stuffed a pillow in each of the giant’s ears. “Nighty-night,” she said. “What?” said the giant. Jac just smiled. In a few minutes, the giant’s snores filled the castle. “Time to go,” said Jac. She clutched the hen under one arm and the harp under the other. The bag of coins jiggled in the front of her dress. But she didn’t let any of it slow her down as she scurried for home. “Master, master,” cried the harp, but it sounded like, “Mustard, mustard,” and anyway, the giant couldn’t hear a thing. “Jac, you’re amazing!” said her mom when she saw what Jac brought home. They put the gold coins in a savings account. They made a deal with the hen. She laid six days a week with Tuesdays off, and kept one egg a week to hatch. Jac retightened the strings and tuned the harp and it played more beautifully than ever because for the first time it could play whatever it wanted. Jac let it give Sunday concerts on the village green. She and her mom shared their new wealth with neighbors in need, and paid for a town library so everyone could read and get smart. Her mother has not eaten the same food twice since Jac’s return. And the giant? He was just glad to get rid of that worthless hen and that broken harp. And as far as Jac knows, he’s still looking for that bag of gold coins! The End.