cover image The House That Crack Built

The House That Crack Built

Clark Taylor, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $6.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-0123-2

A familiar nursery rhyme takes a decidedly dark turn in this sobering picture book. Written in a hip - hop rhythm and based on ``The House That Jack Built,'' the new cumulative rhyme focuses attention on the drug trade and abuse of crack cocaine. No stone is left unturned as the text demonstrates the drug's ripple effect that begins with exploited South American coca farmers--``These are the Farmers who work in the heat''--and ends up invading urban neighborhoods also infested with gangs, violence, despair and hopelessness: ``This is the Street of a town in pain''; ``This is the Girl who's killing her brain.'' Dicks uses muted, somber colors and almost cubist figures and images to illustrate crack's lethal potential. The picture book format is well-suited to presentation of this subject matter to a wide audience--younger readers can readily digest the sparse text and ask questions about the art, while older children and adults may use the book as a jumping off point for more involved discussion. All of the publisher's proceeds from the book will go to drug education, prevention and rehabilitation programs that specifically help children. All ages. (May)