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Giant Trouble: 09/23/17
Giant Trouble by Ursula Vernon is the fourth of the Harriet Hamsterbone series. Harriet is on her way home from cliff diving when she's approached by someone wanting to sell her a bag of beans. Harriet wisely wants no part of this but Mumphrey gets into the bag and eats a bean. By the next morning, Harriet and her quail have a giant beanstalk to contend with.
In every other version of Jack and the Beanstalk, the beanstalk goes up to a castle inhabited by a giant with a taste for blood and bones and a love of gold and magical items. The why behind the castle being there at the top of the clouds is just a given except in this book. Here, the giant's cloud floats around as clouds do and it has gotten snagged on the beanstalk (another reason that Harriet has for needing to cut it down)
Inside the castle we have a fairly standard take on the Jack and the Beanstalk, with the giant being played by a large, dirty rabbit who insists of making everything fit into the standard fe fi fo fum rhyme.
To put it bluntly, Harriet is off her game here for most of her encounter with the giant. She tries to rescue Mumphrey. She tries to free the Harpster. For all her effort she ends up bruised, battered, and nearly falling to her death more times than I care to count.
Of course it's important over the course of a series to see the hero at times of vulnerability. If the hero always wins there's no drama and no character growth. And yet it was rough seeing Harriet have so much trouble.
On the other hand, this book does give Wilbur a chance to step up from his comfortable role as a paperboy to being a hero. Giant Trouble is like those rare Kim Possible episodes where Ron Stoppable ends up saving the day.
There's a fifth book coming in January 2018, Whiskerella.