Bringing back a repetitive rhyme from the old school, illustrator (and kids' book first-timer) Diana Mayo populates a house and the surrounding farm with all manner of cats, cows, and crowing cocks.
Not everyone's going to remember this rhyming story word for word (especially many kids), but a few lines should begin to refresh most memories: "This the house that Jack built. / This is the malt / That lay in the house that Jack built. / This is the rat / That ate the malt / That lay in the house that Jack built." Kids will enjoy chiming in on the repetition from there, as the story builds to include a cat (to chase the rat), a dog (to worry the cat), a cow with a crumpled horn (to toss the dog), and a cast of others, all the way up to 10 lines in the end. There's even a love interest to keep you guessing: What will happen to the "maiden all forlorn"? Will the "shaven and shorn" priest wake up in time to marry her to the "man all tattered and torn"?
The rhyme is a classic, and a good one. And Mayo's fun style carries the characters and their interrelationships energetically, with clean compositions and bold colors that make the progression easy to follow. (Although that dog who keeps getting tossed by the cow seems to be having just a little too much fun.) (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes [via]