Folktales > Jack and the Beans Talk

The big beans on this page actually "talk". To read what they said to Jack when he was climbing the beanstalk, just hover your mouse over them.

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Jack. Jack was very poor and he lived with his mother. All they had to eat was potatoes. And one day they didn't even have that much.

" Moooo!"

Jack was sharpening his ax. His mother was about to make lunch. Suddenly she stopped as she opened the cupboard. There was nothing in it. They realized they would have to make some money. But how? "We'll sell something!" cried Jack, surprising his mother. "That's a great idea, Jack" she said. "But we don't have anything we can sell." Jack was quick to happily offer his ax. His mother was also quick to reject that idea. "You never know when an ax may come in handy," she said. They both looked at each other. There was only one other thing that they could sell: their cow. Jack protested, but his mother made him.

Jack was on the way to the market to sell the cow. That was when the old man appeared beside him. Jack kept on walking figuring that the man was just a curious passerby. The man kept walking beside him. Now Jack guessed that the man was also going to the market. So he asked him where he was going. "Me?" said the man. He frowned, thought, blinked, shrugged. "I guess I'm going wherever you are."

"Well," said Jack, beginning to get confused. "I'm going to the market to sell my cow."

"Oh" said the man. Then he frowned again. "Well, I don't know if I can walk that far. So, I'll save you and me both a trip . . .and I'll save you some money." By now, Jack was really confused. "I'll trade you that cow for . . . five magic beans." There are two reasons Jack took the offer.

  1. He was too confused not to.

  2. Were they magic . . .? Even if they weren't they were still food.

the beans talk So he made the trade. When Jack got home, he was very happy. "Mom!" he yelled. "Mom, you'll never guess what I got for the cow. Five whole magic beans! Can you believe it?" His mom, of course, couldn't. What she couldn't believe was that Jack had made such a foolish trade. So she sent him to bed without any dinner . . . which she had to do herself, as they were out of money and food. As she went off to bed, she threw the beans out the window.

Then something happened that neither of them expected: a beanstalk grew! Right in their backyard, where she had thrown the beans out. They couldn't guess how it got there but it did. There is one real secret as to how the beanstalk got there: the beans were magic! Neither of them knew this; they just picked the beans and ate them. Now, this beanstalk was no normal beanstalk. It took up half the backyard; it grew lots of beans; it was so tall that nobody could see the top. As the days went by and Jack got older, he got more curious. So one day, he decided to climb the beanstalk.

Jack started climbing early in the morning. He reached the top in the middle of the night. Jack was really tired. He fell off the beanstalk and landed on a hard stone walkway. Then he was asleep.

Jack's talking bean

When Jack woke up, it was morning. He was awfully hungry, as he spent the last day climbing. So he started heading home. At least, he was about to when he noticed some very odd things. First of all, he thought why am I beside a castle? And why is it so big? How did I survive a fall off the beanstalk anyway? And why are there clouds all over the place? Then Jack realized that he had only fallen a couple of feet before hitting the ground: he had discovered a giant island in the sky! Now Jack was really curious.

So he decided to see what was inside the castle. He walked up to it and cautiously knocked on the door. Jack couldn't believe who answered it. It was a woman . . . a giant woman. Jack was slightly tall for his age, and he came up to the top of her shins. She jumped when she saw him. They stared at each other for a while. Jack stared because he had never seen anyone so big.

The woman stared because she had never seen anyone so little. Finally, she spoke. "Well," she said raising an eyebrow "Aren't you going to come in?"

Giant's bread

So Jack stepped inside, still staring. Suddenly he started sniffing. "Ma'am," he said. "What's that good smell? It smells like something baking."

"Well," she spoke again, smiling "I was going to have it be part of my husband's breakfast, but I suppose it wouldn't hurt to let you have a slice." Jack's stomach roared just as the oven pinged. A single slice would do, all right. A single slice was half Jack's size. Jack began wolfing it down quick as lightning.

After he was finished he heard a loud voice say. . . "Fee, fi, fo, fum! I smell the blood of a sneaky little bum! Be he 'live or be he dead, I'll make a Jack-o'-lantern outta his head!"

"Oh, no!" hissed the woman "It's my husband. And he likes to eat little kids for breakfast! Hurry! Hide in the oven!" Hearing that first part made Jack queasy about hiding in the oven, but the woman shoved him in.

That was when the door swung open. A giant man, slightly taller than the woman, lumbered in. When she finally got him to stop saying those really annoying rhymes (at least for the time being), he demanded, "Where's my breakfast?".

His wife quickly put the loaf of bread, some buttered pancakes, and a glass of orange juice on the table in front of him. He sat down. "WHERE'S MY GOLD?" he yelled. The woman ran to a corner that had a little chest in it. She whipped open the chest and brought out two burlap sacks, about Jack's size. She then placed these beside the man's breakfast. He began to count. The giant only counted a few minutes, but it seemed like a few hours to Jack.

Listen to the beans Jack!

Finally, the giant fell asleep, his face slapping into the melted butter from his pancakes. Jack climbed out of the oven and began to run, but the giant woman stopped him. "Wait!" she exclaimed. She tossed a bag of gold at him, knocking him over. "Take this! He spends too much time counting it, anyway. You can buy yourself some real clothes and some food with this." She said, noticing Jack's rags. Jack opened his mouth, but she told him not to argue and just to go before her husband woke up. Jack didn't waste the opportunity.

What does the bean say?

It took Jack even longer to climb down the beanstalk with the huge bag of gold weighing him down, but he made it. His mother was very worried about him. Amazingly enough, Jack wasn't tired. Why? He had found a place on the beanstalk where he could sleep without the bag falling off. Jack and his mother lived very happily from then on. They bought some food, new clothes, they knocked down their old house and built a new one. Well, they were living great. However, money doesn't last forever. And one day, it ran out. His mother didn't want him to, but Jack knew he would have to climb up the beanstalk once again. So once more, Jack found himself knocking at the castle door. And once more the giant woman opened it. "Eh" she said, "You again! Good thing my husband is not home. Now tell me, how's it going?"

It makes no sense. Or does it?

So Jack quickly explained everything that had happened. "The gold ran out?" she said. "I should have known." So she went over to the chest again and pulled out a harp. "Take this harp. If you play the harp for people, then you shouldn't ever need to worry about money again!" Jack didn't understand, but he took it anyway. Then they both heard: "Fee, fi, fo, fum! . . ." Jack didn't need to be prompted. He ran.

The giant man appeared in the door. The giant yelled as Jack ran. Jack started to climb the beanstalk with the giant close behind. Then Jack had an idea. He jumped, fell halfway down the beanstalk, and grabbed a vine. He reached the bottom in a couple of minutes this way. Jack had beaten the giant down, but what could he do now? Then he saw his ax.

Enchanted Harp

He grabbed it and chopped hard and fast. Before long the beanstalk fell and the giant was gone.

Well, Jack played the harp and people came from all around the world to listen. And they tossed coins. Jack and his mother lived happily ever after. And the big hole the giant left made a great swimming pool.

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About this Story

This story is from the national touring show "Around the World with Jack". Jack and the Beans Talk was adapted from the stage version for the web by Zephyr Goza (at age 10), who played Jack about 180 times in the nationally touring production. Zephyr also co-wrote the stage version along with his Dad, Dennis. This page was added: November 2001.

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