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Jack and the Box: Toon Books Level 1

Jack and the Box: Toon Books Level 1

by Art Spiegelman (Illustrator)

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A Publishers Weekly Best Children's Picture Book.

Jack's new toy is full of surprises. Is it silly, scary . . . or something else entirely? In what School Library Journal called a "surefire hit," Pulitzer Prize-winner Art Spiegelman applies his out-of-the-box thinking to a story that has all the energy of a Jack-in-the-box!


A Publishers Weekly Best Children's Picture Book.

Jack's new toy is full of surprises. Is it silly, scary . . . or something else entirely? In what School Library Journal called a "surefire hit," Pulitzer Prize-winner Art Spiegelman applies his out-of-the-box thinking to a story that has all the energy of a Jack-in-the-box!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A skeptic might not think that the Pulitzer Prize winner who made a graphic novel about Auschwitz could also write and draw for the not-quite-literate set-but rest assured, this comic gem of a picture book demonstrates Spiegelman's ability to conquer his audience, no matter its constituents. Sticking to his well-developed aesthetic, Spiegelman introduces a bunny hero, Jack, who receives a jack-in-the-box. This jack-in-the-box can talk, and its appearance registers somewhere between goofy and clownlike sinister (see its crocodilian upper teeth); its features gain extra oomph by virtue of being the only ones in a spread to receive high-contrast color treatment. With Jack's parents out of the room, the toy performs Cat-in-the-Hat/Marx Brothers-like slapstick tricks timed to perfection. This book choreographs jokes with an exquisite understanding of climax and denouement. As with the other books from this publisher, the design is sophisticated, making elegant use of panels, an easy-to-handle small format and subtle, low-contrast hues. That the vocabulary and the matchup of dialogue balloons to the action are geared to beginning readers is icing on the cake. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)

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Children's Literature - Michael Jung
Winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for his graphic novel memoir Maus, which recounts Art Spiegelman's father's struggle to survive the Holocaust, Spiegelman tries his hand at lighter fare with Jack and the Box, a graphic novel for toddlers and kindergartners. Somewhat reminiscent of Dr. Seuss books such as The Cat and the Hat, Spiegelman's new book shows Jack the rabbit receiving a talking jack-in-the-box from his parents. Each time Jack talks to his box, a clown pops out in classic peek-a-boo style, startling and delighting Jack. But soon things get out of hand when the clown gets out of his box and decides to introduce Jack to his friend Mack, who lives in his clown hat—along with dozens of pet ducks! Soon, Jack must play parent to his new friends and keep them from destroying his home. While the book offers some engaging artwork by Spiegelman, the plot is excessively repetitive, with Jack spending 12 pages coaxing his clown to come out of his box. The story's final pages provide some entertaining chaos as the clown, Mack, and all the pet ducks rampage through Jack's room—but overall, the story feels flat. Toddlers would be better served with Dr. Seuss. Reviewer: Michael Jung
School Library Journal

Gr 1-2

A mischievous, easy-to-read comic story similar in tone and audience to The Cat in the Hat . Jack receives a jack-in-the-box as a present. Its manically entertaining occupant, Zack, keeps its owner guessing. Fortunately, when the fun gets out of hand, Zack and his friend Mack save Jack by wanting to trade the lamp they broke for a brand-new one, produced from inside the box. While the story is wacky, the cartoon artwork will appeal to a broad range of lower-level readers. True to its comic-strip roots, without the clutter that some children have a hard time reading, this title is a surefire hit.-Sarah Provence, Churchill Road Elementary School, McLean, VA

Kirkus Reviews
A long way from Dick and Jane, this near-primer tries hard, and with at least some success, to rob a scary toy of its power to frighten a youngster. Jack the rabbit is thrilled to receive a box covered in stars from his fond parents. His enthusiasm for the gift changes to fright, however, when a green-faced, pop-eyed talking clown head suddenly lunges out at him. Still, in subsequent playful interchanges with it, Jack gradually comes to agree with its claim that it is not a bad toy at all but a silly one-but not before it, Cat in the Hat-like, unleashes both subsidiary toys and terrifying chaos in a sequence color shifts indicate may well be imaginary. Framed in one or two sequential panels per page done in flat colors, simple shapes and with an all-dialogue text in balloons, the episode looks like a comic for brand new readers. There's a lot going on beneath the surface, though, and this may have some therapeutic value for older children too. (Graphic early reader. 4-8)

Product Details

TOON Books
Publication date:
Toon Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.10(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Art Spiegelman is best known for his masterful two-volume Holocaust narrative, Maus, which in 1992 won a Pulitzer Prize. Born in Stockholm in 1948, Spiegelman rejected his parents' aspirations for him to become a dentist and he began to study cartooning in high school and drawing professionally at age 16. In 2005, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. He was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France in 2005 and—the American equivalent—played himself on an episode of “The Simpsons” in 2008. He has published Meta Maus, a companion to The Complete Maus, which was awarded the National Jewish Book Award. In 2011, Art Spiegelman won the Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. His latest book, CO-MIX: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps, was published by Drawn & Quarterly in September 2013. He lives in New York City, with his wife and collaborator, Françoise Mouly, TOON Books' Editorial Director.

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