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Review of The Tree House that Jack Built

verburg_tree house that jack builtThe Tree House that Jack Built
by Bonnie Verburg; 
illus. by Mark Teague
Primary    Orchard/Scholastic    32 pp.
5/14    978-0-439-85338-5    $17.99    g

This version of the old cumulative rhyme “The House that Jack Built” 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…The Tree 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.

From the May/June 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Susan Dove Lempke About Susan Dove Lempke

Susan Dove Lempke is a Horn Book reviewer and director of the Niles Public Library District in Illinois.

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