Wishbone is a favorite program with my young children, even though the classic stories are often over their heads. I asked them why they like the public television series so much. With an incredulous look they replied, He's a dog. And he talks. So obvious. For me, the appeal is that Wishbone is a literate dog, a dog with a library.

His popularity among the younger fans has led to the production of Wishbone: The Early Years, a series of books targeting younger readers. This series features Wishbone as a puppy and his friends Joe Talbot, David Barnes, and Samantha Kepler as third graders at Oakdale Elementary. Wishbone the puppy guides us through simple folk and fairy tales appropriate for young readers.

Jack and the Beanstalk is the first in the line of these tales told by the young Jack Russell terrier. As expected, Wishbone moves from contemporary life into adventures within a famous story. Joe takes Wishbone to school, and in all the excitement Wishbone leaves his favorite toy there. When the lone pup returns to recover his toy, he encounters a towering figure in the form of the school custodian. The pursuit by the custodian reminds Wishbone of a folktale character who faces his own giant: Jack. Wishbone becomes Jack, and enters the story. Moving between the modern dilemma and the famous tale, he gives us two stories full of action and dialogue.

Children will love reading this book but may need some help with story transitions, which are more difficult to follow in print. The book contains ten chapters and large pictures that illustrate the text. The writers conclude the book with a section on the origins of the story and how it has been saved and retold through the years.

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