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Find a listing of the latest arrivals of books, audio and video items at the Wauwatosa Library, as well as information on upcoming events and staff suggestions for timely information you can use every day on the library's blog.

Jack & the Beanstalk

There are many kings, queens, princes and princesses in fairy tales, but who is the most famous common man or boy?  It is Jack, as in
Jack & the Beanstalk or Jack the Giant Killer.  Joseph Jacobs wrote the first English version of this oral tale as one of the stories in his book, English Fairy Tales (1890).  The “Jack tales” go back hundreds of years in Europe.  This everyman is called Hans in German, Juan in Spanish and Jean or Jacques in France, all variations on the name or nickname for John.  Juan migrated as Juan Bobo to Hispanic lands, in particular Puerto Rico.  JeanPetit is a popular trickster in Cajun stories.  The English Jack and German Hans spread to Appalachia, where Jack becomes an “all-American farm boy".    


The character, Jack, is always lucky and sometimes clever.  He is a trickster with a good heart. He is sometimes a reluctant hero, but he always wins the prize.  In the Grimm’s version, “Hans in Luck”, he is naïve and easily tricked.  Hans wins in the end because he is easily satisfied.  He personifies the idea that if you change your attitude, you can find happiness, even if your circumstances remain unchanged.  In most other versions of the “Jack stories”, the plot is more satisfying.  Jack is poor; he leaves home and through luck or pluck he improves his lot in life.  A few of these stories are:  Lazy Jack (British), Jack and the Fire Dragon (Cornish), Jack and the Animals (Appalachian), Jack & King Marock, Appalachian), Seven at One Blow (German), Juan Bobo Goes to Work (Puerto Rican) and Jacques & the Sugarcane (Cajun).   

The Florentine Opera will perform the children's Opera,
Jack & the Beanstalk, at the Wauwatosa Civic Center auditorium on Saturday, February 27th, from 2:30-3:15 p.m.  This opera is most appropriate for children in Kindergarten through 8th grades.  For more information, call the Wauwatosa Public Library Children's Department: 414-471-8486.

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