THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT

Caldecott Medalist and Honoree Taback (Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, 1999, etc.) has outdone himself with deeply colorful, intricately detailed and witty mixed-media illustrations of each figure in this familiar cumulative tale: cheese, rat, cat, dog, cow, maid, man, judge, rooster, and newly added artist. The fun starts with the endpapers, inventively printed with illustrations of houses accompanied by real-estate ads. Each subsequent spread includes clever extras like labels indicating how smelly various cheeses are, pictures of different breeds of cats (some real, some imaginary—like Felix, of cartoon fame) and humorous descriptions of their temperaments, and a particularly hilarious cow with its parts noted: “tail,” “loin,” “chuck,” “Big Mac.” The hand-drawn, frenetic typeface in colors contrasting with the background adds even more energy to the retelling, which is straightforward and traditional until the very end. The back cover is a spoof of an advertisement for tools “Recommended by Jack” and lists punny, whimsical names for the tools. An author’s note mentions general origins of the rhyme and explains who the mystery artist is; it turns out to be Randolph Caldecott himself, “who first had drawn a picture of the farmer. . . .” Adults in the know will enjoy pointing out his identity to children, but the joke will be lost on those not familiar with the history of children’s literature. (Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-399-23488-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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