A trio of children spends the day playing in their fort, defending it from dragons and beasts, before reality intrudes at nightfall.
Gentle, unassuming rhyme tells the story of Zack, Caspar and King Jack, who make a glorious fort in Jack and Caspar's backyard out of a cardboard box and other tried-and-true materials. As she did so memorably inÂ We're Going on a Bear Hunt, Oxenbury alternates black-and-white vignettes of the "real" goings-on with gorgeous, full-bleed single- and double-page spreads of the fantasy action. Her palette and composition of these fantasy scenes (and the lumpy miens of the beasts) recall Max's sojourn among the wild things, but this is no retread of either classic. The children—preschooler Jack, his toddler brother Caspar and pal Zack—are happy playmates consciously indulging in make-believe. Reality and fantasy merge at the end of the day when "a giant came by and went home with Sir Zack" (a parental hand drags the protesting little boy off) and "another giant came and took Caspar to bed" (he is unceremoniously carried off in the crook of Mommy's arm). Does King Jack have the starch to defend the fort by himself? Who needs starch with a Mommy and Dad like Jack's?
Sure to be read aloud again and again, this testament to imaginative play exudes warmth.Â (Picture book. 3-6)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Fort making is one of the great enterprises of childhood, but just in case the art has been lost to some, Bently (The Great Dog Bottom Swap) and Oxenbury (There's Going to Be a Baby) open their felicitous collaboration with what is essentially an illustrated instruction manual: "A big cardboard box,/ an old sheet and some sticks,/ a couple of trash bags,/ a few broken bricks,/ a fine royal throne/ from a ragged old quilt,/ a drawbridge, a flag--/ and the castle was built." Declaring himself king, Jack leads his friends Zack and Caspar in defending the fort against a menagerie of imaginary creatures. But when Jack's knights are carried off by giants (their parents), Jack finds that a solo defense of the fort is no picnic: "He wished he was anything else but a king." Bently's verse never misses a beat, and Oxenbury shifts between monochromatic, engraving-like drawings and pale watercolors; the images feel as if they were drawn from a classic fairy tale book and contemporary life simultaneously. It's an enchanting tribute to both full-throttle pretend play and the reassurance of a parent's embrace. Ages 3-5. (Aug.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
PreS-K--"Jack, Zack, and Casper were making a den--a mighty great fort for King Jack and his men." So begins this delicious tale of three adventurous youngsters whose day is filled with constructing a castle (construction box, trash bags, and a ragged quilt) and battling dragons and beasts in an imaginary forest. When evening arrives, Zack and Casper are scooped up seemingly by giants (their parents) and taken home. Alone, Jack at first braves the quivering trees and sounds of scampering animals until a four-footed "SOMETHING" looms out of the night. But no, it is his parents, and Jack, riding home on his father's shoulders, claims, "I knew you weren't really a dragon." Soft colors and the fanciful expressions on the various creatures offset any scare youngsters might find in the story, and the children's beguiling faces are warm and friendly. A balance of brown-toned crosshatched drawings and full-color artwork adds to the easy flow of the action. A tale of make-believe that children will delight in hearing again and again.--Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA[Page 113]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.