There are books that demand one’s attention on the shelves of the children’s section in the bookshops of the world, and then there are the books that, out of the blue, one notices already sitting on one’s bookshelf, a gift probably, maybe given in anticipation of the child’s changing tastes in reading material, so unread at the time of receipt, but now ripe for exploration.
Jasper’s Beanstalk was one of these less noisy books that was given to my son when he was still much too young to appreciate or enjoy its charms. But one day, quite unintentionally, Jasper’s Beanstalk was pulled from the shelves, and we began to read.
We read about a cat, Jasper, who found a bean and decided to help it grow. Each day Jasper tries some new gardening technique to encourage the bean to sprout, until he despairs of ever seeing a beanstalk…
The trick with any picture book is, of course, to have a payoff at the end that makes all the previous pages seem all that much more magical than they seemed at first glance, and Jasper’s Beanstalk does this to perfection. Add to this the simple, joyful and inviting illustrations, and any toddler-gardener will be enraptured by this tale of a cat who seeks to plant a bean.
The text on each page is enormous – much, much larger than the average picture book, and the sentences are simple and short (as in as few as 5 words, short!). This creates a reading experience that is tremendously approachable to young children, who can easily memorise the exact wording of the story, and then ‘read’ the book through to themselves at their leisure.
This reading treasure by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen (yep, that’s the name of the illustrator) was first published in 1992, but was released in a new edition just last year, so your local bookshop should either have it in stock, or easily be able to order a copy in.