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What happened in the house that Jack built?
Simms infuses this favorite children's rhyme with his distinctive, creative flair and humor. His Jack builds a house like no other and fills it with cheeses from all nations, which of course attracts the rat that stirs up the cat. Taback takes the usual cast of characters in this classic cumulative rhyme and presents each in a funny new light that will keep readers laughing. His addition at the end neatly fits an appropriate character into Jack's story and makes his telling even more unique.
— from the Publisher
This Is The House That Jack Built
Publishers Weekly
Caldecott Medalist Taback (Joseph Had a Little Overcoat) offers a spirited interpretation of this cumulative rhyme. From the very start as endpapers reveal a variety of pencil-drawn houses with yellowing real estate ads as captions the artist fills these busy pages with abundant details and diversions. The first spread introduces Jack's home on the left, with the text on the right, and the word "house" in eye-popping collage type. Ancillary images and asides accompany the vividly hued mixed-media illustrations and hand-lettered text that introduce the invading characters. On the spread announcing the cheese, for example, Taback reveals nine varieties (one of which "lay in the house that Jack built") and ranks them according to their pungency ("Not so smelly"; "Really stinky"). Superimposed on the image of "the cow with the crumpled horn" are labels indicating its parts (tail, hoof, udder) as well as the anatomical sources of some kid-pleasing delicacies (meatballs, Big Mac, etc.). As previous characters move to the right of each spread, they (and the growing text) begin to crowd out the house itself. Taback slips himself into the tale at its end (wearing a beret bearing the words "Guess who?"), applying the finishing touches to a picture that gathers the entire cast of characters. A zany and fun take on this 18th-century classic. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information
Reviews

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School Library Journal
Taback is very, very clever. He takes the house element of the story literally by turning the endpapers and back cover into newspaper advertisements, offering real estate and tools to fix a house. The adventure inside is downright hilarious. "This is the cheese that lay in the house" elicits an entire page on which various cheeses are not only named but also labeled as to their aroma or lack of it. Every page contains a variety of tongue-in-cheek references that may go over the heads of some kids but those who get them will love them. The illustrator creates additional drama with strong color. He uses stark black backgrounds for the house painted in bright jewel tones. Dark colors, such as navy and deep green, lay the groundwork for each of the characters. The rat, the cat, the dog, etc., all have their own pages and their names are formed by letters cut from newspapers. Children will love this book, and it's a natural for storyhour. This is the version every library should have.
Review by Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY, Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Booklist
With his familiar mixed-media collage, Taback raises the roof on this familiar cumulative rhyme. Clever touches abound inside and out, beginning with endpapers that display a series of houses with newspaper "for sale" ads, and the back of the jacket is decorated with pictures of tool ads and sale prices. Added to the usual cast (rat, cat, cow, dog, maiden, tattered man, and judge) is a surprise guest, "the artist who first had drawn a picture of the farmer planting his corn," whose appearance brings the rhyme full circle. Each new addition to the cast is pictured against an intensely colored background on a left-hand page as black-and-white backdrops on right-hand pages help dramatize the frenzied action. The spreads are filled to the edges with boldly colored images, text refrain, and visual jokes. There hasn't been a lively telling of this tale in years, and Taback puts a new house on the market and hits the nail on the head with this boisterous, rollicking version. An author's note establishes origin of the rhyme as an ancient Hebrew chant; it was first illustrated by Randolph Caldecott in 1878.
Review by Julie Cummins, Copyright 2002 American Library Association
Barnes & Noble
Caldecott Medal winner Simms Taback has returned with his trademark mixed-media illustrations and jovial style in this hilarious retelling of a classic rhyme. The familiar tale starts with "This is the house that Jack built," but right away we know we're not in for the average retelling: A large, abstract-looking house stands majestically on the page, complete with a "For Sale" sign on the lawn and a "Call Jack for Key" sign on the door. Taback's whimsical yarn spins along, with nine different cheeses (with smell-factor commentary), a psychotic-looking rat, a ferocious cat, a salivating dog, and so on. Each verse of the well-known tale is portrayed with witty Tabackian extras, causing the pages to get more crowded with words and topsy-turvy characters, but the real treat comes at the end with an extra verse, and readers are asked to guess which 19th-century artist first illustrated this timeless story.
With Joseph Had a Little Overcoat and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly under his belt, Simms Taback has created another frolicsome book that's clever, charming, and simply fun to look at. His stylistic artwork will have readers searching for photos, labels, and added information about each character, making a traditional and busy rhyme spring to life. A blessing for storytimes and a kooky treasure hunt—adults and children will be cheering over this new take on Jack's place.
Review by Matt Warner for Barnes & Noble.
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