All kinds of calamities befall the titular book in this cumulative riff on “The House That Jack Built.”
Following the initial pages that introduce both Jake and the book, conditions for the book quickly deteriorate: Jelly drips on it, a rat licks the jelly, a cat catches the rat, a dog chases the cat, and the dog chews the book’s pages. The mangled book is taken back to the library (along with the contents of Jake’s piggy bank), and the collage illustration shows a stereotypical, frowning librarian who scolds Jake—but wait! She’s also the librarian who lets him take home extra books even after she laments the first book’s harsh treatment. The childlike fabric collages are busy, with double-page spreads that frequently feature large, labeled arrows cut from lined paper on verso pointing to the various characters. Interjections between lines add extra opportunity for storytime audiences to chime in (and giggle): “This is the rat / that licked the jelly Oh, gross! / That dripped on the book Oh, no! / that Jake borrowed.” In the picture, a plump rat snoozes on top of the opened book. Jake and the librarian are both white; the former has impish dots and lines for facial features, while the librarian wears glasses (of course) and a bun (double of course).
This is the story the librarian reads to the kids to keep them grinning when they say “read it again!” (Picture book. 4-8)