It's a spider-eat-fly world in this House-that-Jack-Built-style tale of the tropics. The rhythmic text unravels an account of predator after predator becoming prey ("This is the toad with the big googly eye,/ that gulped down the spider,/ that gobbled the fly,/ that buzzed through the heart of the jungle"), but for all the momentary chaos, the story does not build to much of a climax. Gomez's textured, full-bleed paintings command more attention. The vibrant colors, applied with thick brushstrokes, feature a range of jungle greens, and she purposefully leaves bare the outlines of the shapes, allowing the orange background to show through with dramatic effect. The abstractions in the compositions are frequently compelling (if occasionally disorienting). For example, the point of view is difficult to determine at the opening, but a few subsequent spreads suggest that the audience has been looking at treetops reflected in a small pool of water. Like the text, the art conveys plenty of motion. Ages 3-6. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A cumulative rhyme like "The House That Jack Built" with echoes of "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" begins with a fly that buzzes through the heart of the jungle. Each successive creature and its action are described in rhyme and in language that begs to be read aloud. The toad "with the big googly eye," for example, "gulped down the spider, that gobbled the fly, that buzzed...." "The elephant, swinging its trunk, that swatted the snake that slithered and slunk...." The book ends with the start of the trouble, the roar of the king of beasts. Gomez's broadly imaged, textured creatures and stylized jungle foliage are composed for strong emotional impact. The white monkey's long arms and tail, for example, as he "let out a shriek," create a decorative arabesque. The painterly illustrations delight the eye as we follow the tale to the end. 2003, Tiger Tales,
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
K-Gr 3-This story is very much like Verna Aardema's Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears (Dial, 1975), but the culprit here is a fly "that buzzed through the heart of the jungle." It gets eaten by the spider, which gets eaten by the toad, which gets eaten by the crocodile, etc. The cadence follows a "This Is the House That Jack Built" pattern, which will delight listeners as it becomes clear that all of this eating was started by Lion, the King of Beasts, doing what lions do and causing animals to scatter. What sets this story apart is the creative variation of fonts. It starts out in medium-large text, perfect for young readers, and fluctuates ever so subtly, first angles, then curves up and down and around the shape of the animals. There is great rhythmic movement in the art, with bursts of color beginning with blues and greens. Gradually, dashes of other colors are added, culminating in bright orange for the King's mane, as his roar fills the whole page. Kids will be mesmerized-when they are not chiming in on the title refrain.-Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Huntsville, AL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Illustrated in warm bold colors, a cumulative rhyming poem tells of a chain reaction of individual animal actions. Initially revealed from last to first, the events are then repeated from first to last. "This is the fly, that buzzed through the heart of the jungle. This is the spider, that gobbled the fly, that buzzed through the heart of the jungle. This is the toad with the big googly eye, that gulped down the spider, that gobbled the fly," and so on. Backgrounds are textured, leafy, and abstract; animals are bright, fully identifiable, and full of motion. Smooth rhymes and impeccable rhythm make the text eminently accessible for repeat listeners to chime in. Jarring the flow for discerning readers, however, is a logical glitch: if the lion's roar "started the trouble" and everything else occurs in order after that, then the last two events are impossible, because a spider that has already been eaten can not go ahead and eat a fly. The phrase, "last, but not least" is also a confusing descriptor of the lion's roar, which occurs first; perhaps it refers to the fact that the roar is narrated last? Amply compensating and distracting, however, is the huge orange lion's mouth, which is diagonally open and toothy, but soft enough in line and texture to be more fascinating than scary. Good for story hour and group read-alouds. (Picture book. 2-5)