Jaclyn and the Beanstalk

Young Adult - Mythology/Fairy Tale
275 Pages
Reviewed on 07/08/2018
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Author Biography

Award-winning, Author Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. She also toured with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children's chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

Mary Ting spins a new tale from a classic fairy tale in Jaclyn and the Beanstalk. “Everyone has a destiny, a story to tell.” Jaclyn is not your average sixteenth-century girl. She and her loving parents live alone, isolated from the townsfolk. Although beautiful, Jacyln is not very ladylike. Due to her father’s intense training, Jaclyn is skilled in the sword and other weapons. One day, Jaclyn discovers a stash of weapons hidden in the barn. She is somehow connected to these weapons; bizarre images appear after touching the tip of the lance. After this encounter, weird things begin to happen such as a mysterious lady with beans, secret meetings, talk of legends of treasure and night monsters. When Jaclyn's father and a small band of men are captured and taken to Black Mountain, Jaclyn realizes monsters are real. With faith and courage as her guides, she heads toward the mountain. Into the unknown, where evil creatures of the night reside, Jaclyn wills herself to be brave. She will save her father, no matter the cost.

Jaclyn and the Beanstalk written by Mary Ting is an enchanting and adventuresome tale. Keenly descriptive and eloquently written with touches of sixteenth-century language, the story takes the reader into the world of monsters controlled by a diabolical villain, and into a land of mystery and magic beans. The story taps into the senses of the young adult reader. Written in the first-person narrative, the story is told from the heroine’s point of view. Jaclyn is strong, brave, and unusually gifted. Her sidekick, Jack, challenges her, annoys her, yet causes her character to arc and grow. Although the story is founded on the original tale, Ting includes imaginative and creative twists, heightening the adventure. I enjoyed and appreciated the blending of the classic fairy tale with the new, especially in the conclusion. This story is more than just good versus evil; it is about love conquering hatred. “Hatred does not win over evil – only love and forgiveness.” Jaclyn and the Beanstalk illustrates the power of forgiveness in an unforgettable way.

Liz Konkel

Jaclyn and the Beanstalk by Mary Ting is a twist on the classic fairy tale. Since turning sixteen, Jaclyn has been plagued by nightmares which come to life after she discovers a hidden sword and overhears her father at a secret meeting, speaking of the feared return of monsters. When her father and a few other men disappear, she takes off on her own to save them with only her sword and three magic beans to help her. As she journeys toward a dangerous beanstalk, she uncovers a shocking history, learns the truth about her nightmares, and joins forces with the handsome Jack.

Mary Ting twists the fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk into a fun and original adventure that gives the famed tale an origin story. Jaclyn is a strong-willed character who is constantly breaking the stereotype of women from the sixteenth century and proving herself to be this empowering heroine. Since childhood, she's trained with a sword and chosen to wear pants over dresses. She refuses to marry or to seek out suitors, instead choosing her own independence. Her strength and value make her the perfect role model and fantasy heroine. Her mother has moments where she's a little typical with a protective and doting nature, and she is subtly pushing her daughter to marry, but she's also self-assured and often breaks the stereotype by encouraging her daughter to be brave, as well as being the one who taught her husband how to use a sword.

Ting weaves in a religious tone as faith takes precedence through a connection to Mary Magdalene and through the villain's desperation to seek revenge for being cursed by God. The villain is filled with hatred and is driven by a thirst for vengeance. His personality is cruel, but Ting provides moments where his tragic backstory sets him up for a possible redemption ... if he were to choose it. Jaclyn does have a little romance throughout as her relationship with Jack focuses on their banter and their charming butting of heads, which adds humor throughout the story. Ting explores themes of faith and forgiveness in Jaclyn and the Beanstalk, an adventure about loss and family, bravery and power.

Eeva Lancaster

Jaclyn and the Beanstalk by Mary Ting is a heartwarming new take on an old fairy tale. Young Jaclyn hears what she thinks are monsters at night, and she has no idea if she's losing her mind or if they're just figments of her imagination. But one day, when monsters start causing terror in the villages, and her beloved father sets out to help, he doesn't return. Jaclyn's father has prepared her for situations like this. With only a sword and some magic beans given to her by a mysterious woman, she goes after her father in the hopes of saving him. Jaclyn is not aware of what the magic beans can do, but when one drops, a beanstalk springs up from the ground and takes her, and her friend, Jack, into a world of adventure.

Mary Ting has done a wonderful job in the retelling of a classic fairy tale. The introduction was powerful and entertaining, and I was immediately drawn in by the setting and characters. A poor but loving family, with a young daughter who was taught how to fight with a sword, in a time when ladies were only meant to be married off to a suitable man. But somehow, the tone of the story changed and turned religious. The author connected it to Bible folklore and I'm left scratching my head and wondering why... Nevertheless, this may just be a personal preference. The book is wonderfully written, and is meant for young adults. What I loved most about Jaclyn and the Beanstalk is the relationship between Jaclyn and her parents. This book is gritty and heartwarming at the same time, with a bit of suspense and some mind-boggling twists to the story you won't see coming. A unique take on the original story.

Ray Simmons

Jack and Jaclyn sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g! I’m sorry, I just had to throw that in this review. It has been on my mind since I realized that this book is a retelling of the classic Jack and the Beanstalk. But in my opinion, Jaclyn and the Beanstalk by Mary Ting is better. It is more satisfying, with a great heroine and a good love story. I liked this book. I have a high school friend with a young granddaughter who loves to read adventure tales featuring young people and I can’t wait to tell her about this one. This is my first Mary Ting book, but I see she has written many novels. I’m going to read a few more as soon as I get the time. I like her style. Her voice is clear, clean, fresh, and young. Who would’ve thought that you could do so much with Jack and the Beanstalk? This would make an excellent Disney movie.

What I liked most about Jaclyn and the Beanstalk is that Mary Ting managed to surprise me at every turn, even though I must have read this story a million times as a kid. The most impressive surprise was the creation of a girl protagonist who is so much better than the original Jack. Then she brings in the boy, Jack, as the love interest. Sheer genius and a great idea. The writing is great. The plot is good, and the various themes woven throughout the story make it a very compelling tale. Awesome job!