The zippy nonsense of the cumulative rhyme rendered as an actual, nigh-incomprehensible story--via some ugly, movie-cartoony pictures also rendered, misguidedly, as realistic illustrations. The book begins with a peculiar, animaloid farmer speaking to a dog-mailman and gesturing toward a big, bursting, mock-medieval town house: ""This is the house that Sack built."" The mailman then delivers the bag of malt to comfortable, wine-imbibing householder Jack; a rat-thief, in top hat and tails, hops in the window and settles into Jack's easy chair. Ostensibly, ""This is the rat that ate the malt""; but in fact the rat is seen eating Jack's olives (or something) while another rat conveys the unopened bag of malt to a hoodlum-dog outside. And so it goes--a fictional farce (that gets wilder and wilder) trading on a good old name.