Small Jack makes a fort in the living room with a number of household items that the rest of his family needs back.
The text moves to the rhythm of the familiar rhyme, resting on a repeated final line about the dog that “almost collapsed the fort that Jack built.” For Jack has built his fort with the dog’s leash, the pillows from upstairs, a pile of books and chairs belonging to other members of his family. First the dog tries to tug it down. Then Jack’s big sister takes back her chair, his brother takes back his whole pile of books, and his elder sister, wearing a very large bath towel, retrieves the shower curtain. And so on. Finally, though, Grandma finds a way to keep cozy under her quilt and allow Jack some free rein, too, although it’s punctuated with a very clear message about sharing. The rich but retro color palette, using oils on a digital print, emphasizes the static quality of the images, even when Jack is shouting. Family roles are static too: Jack’s mother is first seen with a broom, then moves to making the beds (sigh), while Jack’s dad is intent on the flat-screen. Jack’s knight action figures conduct byplay of their own in various scenes, providing some visual interest.
Alas, no substitute for a real pretend fort. (Picture book. 4-8)