Despite the obvious inspiration of “The House that Jack Built,” this text does not accumulate but rather rhythmically recounts bee-related activities.
“This is the golden honey, / made by the thousands of busy bees, / that work inside the dark shelter / that stands in the yard. // And this is Jack, the daddy, / who keeps bees as a hobby, / gathering honey from the bee box / that stands in the yard.” The bees pollinate, gather nectar, and make honey; Jack harvests the honey and makes beeswax candles; his family eats the honey. While bees are a hot topic, this book falls short in several ways. With rhythm that never takes off and a narrative that meanders between hive and house, there is no real sense of continuity from blossom to table. The cheery cartoon art, heavy on honey yellow, is likewise unsuccessful. The bees themselves, with exaggerated proboscises and elongated, dully colored abdomens, look uncomfortably like mosquitoes, and they are depicted carrying pollen on all their legs instead of only their back two. The hive, described in the text as a modern set of boxes, has the profile of an old-fashioned straw one and is, as depicted, highly unlikely to be found in any actual bee yard. Companion title The Cow that Jack Milked is rather more coherent in narrative but equally halting in its rhythms. The family members in both books (they appear to be different) all have beige skin.
Barely marginal. (Picture book. 3-6)