cover image The House That Jack Built

The House That Jack Built

Jenny Stow. Dial Books, $14 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1090-0

A Caribbean setting adds zest to a well-known verse in this effervescent picture book. All the familiar characters--the rat, cat and dog and the cow with the crumpled horn--are here, refreshingly depicted against cerulean blue skies, golden sands and an abundance of lush vegetation. What some illustrations lack in depth and action is more than made up for by their intriguingly different textures and techniques. Sponged-on paint produces a dappled effect suggestive of hazy sunlight or early morning mist, while a roller is used to create unusual blocks of color. Each of the rhyme's characters, however incongruous, appears perfectly at home in its surroundings. In one particularly expressive pink and orange sunset scene the ensemble (except for the already digested rat) is grouped together in striking silhouette. A splendid new outlook on a classic. Ages 5-up. (May)