In thisreworking of the familiar cumulative tale, young Jack lives with his menagerie of tropical animals in a fabulous tree house by the sea. He has built a fantastic construction of ladders, knotted swinging vines, thatched-roofed platforms, balconies, and swinging bridges into the trunk andboughs of a giantjungle tree. Verburg’s enjoyable text is perfectly paced as she introduces a grinning fly that is snapped atby a lizard that is pecked at by a parrot that is in turn swatted by a cat . . . until all the animals are brought up short by Jack’s ringing of a bell. It announces storytime, and then “Good night to all the things Jack made,” as he goes to sleep in his treetop hammock. Each acrylic spread is alive with brilliant colors and delightful pop-up-in-your-face figures, and imaginative details abound throughout: ingenious pulleys lift pineapples, a fan operated by a bunny using a foot treadle, and a cascading triple birdbath. Teague weaves his magic into every scene, making this a delight for incipient Robinson Crusoes.
An enormous banyan tree provides the foundation for an industrious boy’s idyllic seaside aerie in this version of the familiar cumulative rhyme. From a long-lens perspective, Jack’s tree house calls to mind the classic board game Chutes and Ladders; pulley systems, swings, and rope ladders link multiple decks built among the tree’s branches. Up close, readers see fun details that include a hammock, a ship’s steering wheel, and a lively menagerie of animal pets—a veritable tropical food chain from fly to monkey, with some helpful squirrels and rabbits along for fun. While Teague’s (the How Do Dinosaurs… series) lush jungle compositions swoop around the structure to show the animals in playful pursuit, Verburg (The Kiss Box) provides an equally entertaining journey. Entirely the master of his island domain, Jack calls the animals to order (“But what’s that sound?/Jack’s ringing a bell!/It’s story time!/They know it well”) as the story makes its way to a bedtime conclusion. Readers will envy Jack’s self-assured confidence and his abode itself, which is worthy of Swiss Family Robinson. Ages 3-6.
This version of the old cumulative rhyme “The House that JackBuilt” grabs kids right from the start: the cover shows a small boy waving from one of many balconies in a multilevel structure built in a colossal tree. The book begins with “the fly / that buzzes by / the tree house / that Jack built”; on the next page, a sleepy lizard “snaps at the fly / that buzzes by.” Children will be on the lookout for the next animal, as they each appear in the previous picture, and they will also want a chance to pore over the acrylic paintings that fill every page. Jack has indeed created “marvelous things” in his tree house, from a rabbit-powered fan for the hammock, where a monkey lounges, to an ingenious Rube Goldberg device with pulleys and a waterwheel.The animals stop chasing and pecking and swatting at one another when Jack rings the bell signaling the beginning of storytime, at which he reads them…TheTree House that Jack Built. Both text and pictures expand out beyond the tree to the whales in the sea before Jack and his cat settle down to sleep in a
peaceful ending. A great storytime book with its bouncy rhymes and big pages, it is also a good book to share one-on-one, rewarding repeated porings-over of the pictures.
Art © copyright 2014 by Mark Teague from The Tree House that Jack Built, published June 1, 2014 by Orchard/Scholastic. Text © copyright 2014 by Bonnie Verburg. This site is not sponsored by Scholastic Inc. Scholastic Inc. is not responsible for content, permissions, text, or use of videos and image. Approval pending. All rights reserved.