Below you will find questions organized into four main categories for the chapters in What Jill Did While Jack Climbed the Beanstalk. After your child or class has read or listened to a story, use these questions to start a conversation about it. We would love for you to come up with topics, questions, and follow-up activities of your own and share them with us via email or Instagram.

Characters

Questions

  • Describe Jill’s character (not her appearance or family circumstances). Indicate where in the story you see the qualities you have identified.
  • Describe Jack’s character. How do you think he feels about his sister and vice versa?
  • Describe the Vole sisters when we first meet them in chapter 5. Describe the way they talk and act. Are the sisters in any way different?
  • What does the sign the sisters make for their stand and the things they say to their potential customers tell you about their values and priorities?
  • What makes the daughter mouse an interesting character and valuable friend?
  • The sisters call Jill “little girl” many times throughout the story. Why do they do that?
  • Is the sheriff is a positive character? Why / Why not?
  • Why is Jill so happy going home? Why does she think “It would be a special evening”?

Plot

Questions

  • Do you think the old woman is an ordinary person? If not, who is she? If she was hungry, why didn’t she just plant her magic beans herself?
  • In what ways do Jack’s and Jill’s stories begin in a similar way? Identify any important differences.
  • After Jill explains to the Vole sisters why her beans are magic, “The sisters looked at each other out of the corners of their eyes. They were both thinking the same thing” (chapter 5). What do you think they were thinking?
  • What is Jill’s “Giant” problem (chapter 6)? How is it different from Jack’s “Giant” problem?
  • How do the sisters try to convince people to buy their beans? What are their arguments?
  • Why does Jill feel “as though she had just tripped and fallen on her face” (chapter 6) when Sandy tells her to “prove” the basket is hers?
  • What makes Jill decide in chapter 7 that she really does need to get her basket back?
  • Why does the daughter mouse get “a bit frustrated” with Jill?
  • Why do the Vole sisters seem to find the very idea of magic so funny (chapter 8)? Do you think they really believe the beans are magic? Why / Why not?
  • The sheriff tells Jill he may have to arrest her as a “public nuisance”. What’s a “public nuisance”?
  • At the end of chapter 9, the text tells us Jill “had triumphed.” In what ways does she triumph?
  • Once the two children get back home, Jack cannot stop talking about his adventures. Jill, however, says nothing about hers. Why do you think she keeps silent?
  • At the very end Jack goes to sleep and Jill tells her mother “how much she loved the ring her mother had given her.” Do you think this is a good ending? Why / Why not?

Values and Choices

Questions

  • Does Jill do the right thing in giving the old woman three apples? Would you have done so?
  • Jill tells the daughter mouse she can’t say anything “not really true” even if it would help her get her basket back. Do you agree with Jill’s position?
  • Why does Jack steal the giant’s chicken? Do you think that was a good thing to do?
  • Are Jack and Jill both heroes? Why / Why not?

Talking about Fairy Tales

Questions

  • What is the original story of “Jack and the Beanstalk”? What makes it a fairy tale? List as many fairy-tale characteristics as you can.
  • Look up the word “parody.” Is Jill’s story a parody of Jack’s? Explain.
  • Why does Sandy refer to Jill as “Little Red Riding Hood” (chapter 5)? If she is in some way like Little Red Riding Hood, whom are the Vole sisters like?
  • To what story is Jill referring when she tells the sisters about a girl who told so many lies her nose kept getting bigger and bigger (chapter 8)? What happens in this story?
  • Look up the terms “protagonist” and “antagonist”. Try to apply them to What Jill Did.
  • Do you think magic makes a story more interesting or less interesting? Explain.
  • Can a story with magic in it still be in some way realistic? Why / Why not?
  • We have many stories about boys like Jack, but very few stories about girls like Jill. Why do you think that is?