Saturday, February 22, 2014

Waynetta and the Cornstalk

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Waynetta and the Cornstalk

By:  Helen Ketteman
Illustrated by:  Diane Greenseid

This is a twist on Jack and the Beanstalk.  Waynetta is a girl that lives with her ma on a ranch in Texas.  They work hard but one dry summer they run out of water and money.  Waynetta is sent out to sell their longhorn.  Just as the original story she sells it for a handful of seeds.  These were not beans though they were magic corn.  When she gets home her mom gets upset and throws them out the window.  "Waynetta felt lower than a coyote in a canyon."  But the next day a huge cornstalk had grown.  She climbs it and there is a huge ranch with a giant women.  This part is a little bit of twist when she says "I reckon you've come to take back the things my husband stole from your ma years ago."  She was eating when the giant man came home and was angry.  Waynetta hid and saw the giant man using a little longhorn, a lariat, and a magic bucket.  While the man was taking a bath she stole the magic cattle and went down the cornstalk.  Her mom was happy but she said they could not raise the cattle without water so Waynetta went back up the cornstalk.  She steals the magic bucket but the man sees her and follows her down the cornstalk.  Waynetta's mom chops down the cornstalk and the giant man falls creating a giant shaped hole, which Waynetta filled up with water with the magic bucket.  When the giant man fell, he didn't die but instead it knocked the mean out of him and he along with his wife stayed and worked with Waynetta and her ma.  

I really liked this story.  It was great to see a girl as the main character and for the giant man to turn out nice in the end.  I do not know much about Texas so I do not know if the story is accurately depicting some aspect of it.  However I read on Ketteman's website that she lived in Texas for nine years, which was were she wrote many of her Texas themed stories.  She does a great job of creating a voice that matches the story, with lines such as, "Why, you're purty as a bluebonnet!"  and "You'd best have a bite to eat.  And be careful, darlin." The only thing that I thought was strange about the story was that the magic cow laid gold cowpats, which I thought might cause some giggles in the classroom.  I think the story would be a great comparison to an original Jack and the Beanstalk and would give the children many things to compare/contrast and discuss.  

The illustrations in this story start on the endpapers and are beautifully illustrated.  The Cornstalk on the endpaper is done beautifully to show texture and it looks as though it is real if you touch it.  Greenseid does a great job of showing the size between the giants and Waynetta on her full bleed pages of vibrant colors.  Some of the text is also done on frames that look like old scrolls, simulating that this is an old tale passed down.  

I can't wait to use this in the classroom.  I think the children will enjoy it and I can use my own southern accent to make it more lively!  

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