The Tree House That Jack Built

Bonnie Verburg, illus. by Mark Teague. Scholastic/Orchard, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-439-85338-5
An enormous banyan tree provides the foundation for an industrious boy’s idyllic seaside aerie in this version of the familiar cumulative rhyme. From a long-lens perspective, Jack’s tree house calls to mind the classic board game Chutes and Ladders: pulley systems, swings, and rope ladders link multiple decks built among the tree’s branches. Up close, readers see fun details that include a hammock, a ship’s steering wheel, and a lively menagerie of animal pals—a veritable tropical food chain from fly to monkey, with some helpful squirrels and rabbits along for fun. While Teague’s (the How Do Dinosaurs... series) lush jungle compositions swoop around the structure to show the animals in playful pursuit, Verburg (The Kiss Box) provides an equally entertaining journey. Entirely the master of his island domain, Jack calls the animals to order (“But what is that sound?/ Jack’s ringing a bell!/ It’s story time!/ They know it well”) as the story makes its way to a bedtime conclusion. Readers will envy Jack’s self-assured confidence and his abode itself, which is worthy of Swiss Family Robinson. Ages 3–6. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/17/2014
Release date: 05/27/2014
Genre: Children's
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