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Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 09/15/2013 When we first meet Jack, he and his little white dog are on the rampart, wielding a sword and defending a castle and its medieval occupants from marauding knights. The small boy’s basic materials for castle construction include pillows, a stool, a table, a shower curtain, books, sheets, a quilt, an armchair, and a lamp. Voilà! He has built a world-class fort, complete with the obligatory “Keep Out!” sign. But then Jack’s sister yanks her chair away, creating a sag; his brother grabs his stack of books, creating a crack; his other sister takes back the shower curtain, leaving a gap; his mother needs the sheets and pillows, making a hole. Meanwhile, Jack’s overenthusiastic dog keeps trying to collapse the fort. A disconsolate Jack views his diminished structure with despair. It is up to Grandma to soothe him as they climb under her quilt and share a book about knights. Helquist's colorful illustrations truly capture the active imaginative play of youngsters in this humorous variation of the nursery rhyme. - Copyright 2013 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 12/01/2013 PreS-Gr 2—Ashburn continues to mine traditional nursery rhymes with this reimagining of "The House That Jack Built." This time, Jack is a little boy who collects various items from around the house to construct a fort in front of the living room TV. But little by little, starting with the dog that pulls at the curtain, the structure is dismantled. Jack's sisters, brother, and parents reclaim the chairs, books, curtains, sheets, and other borrowed bits while Jack tries in vain to fend them off with his toy weapons. Left with just the coffee table and a sympathetic grandma, he finally builds a much smaller and cozier hideaway. The story starts out with a strong rhyme scheme that falters later on in the text. (Perhaps it's all those phrases set off by parentheses—and hyphens—and exclamations that tend to trip up someone trying to read the story aloud.) Helquist's muted pictures created with oil on a digital print illustrate each scene but they sometimes chop up the verse unevenly. Although there are many opportunities to bring out the playfulness of the concept, Jack usually looks angry and the other characters have static expressions. Overall, a missed opportunity for a clever presentation.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.