Tag: shapes

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray, illustrated by Brian Collier (InfoSoup)

Various shapes are shown in a vibrant urban city in this picture book. A young girl walks through the city, takes public transportation and notices shapes as she goes. There are the squares of boxes and trucks. Rectangles form glass on the skyscrapers, windows and benches. Triangles are flags and sails. Wheels are circles along with manhole covers. Musical instruments in a band show oval shapes in their drums and lights. Diamonds fly as kites and stars fill the night sky. The girl returns home to bed, just as the pigeon who took flight on the first page returns to her nest, both listening to the noises of the city around them.

This dynamic picture book celebrates the beauty of urban life, the movement and rush of it all, the variety you find there. Seen through the lens of finding shapes in real life, this picture book would be a great way to look outside your own windows and see shapes there too. The bright friendliness of the city streets makes for a refreshing picture book. The text reads as a poem, filled with rhymes and rhythms that match the city setting.

Collier’s illustrations are a gorgeous mix of media, incorporating collage in a way that makes the shapes stand out but also fit into the setting too. It’s very cleverly done. The little girl in the book is based on Collier’s own young daughter. Her face is filled with enthusiasm throughout the book, her attitude wonderfully contagious.

A beautiful, colorful and shape-ly book that celebrates urban life. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.


Review: Spots in a Box by Helen Ward

Spots in a Box by Helen Ward

Spots in a Box by Helen Ward

A guinea fowl is worried about his lack of plumage design, so he sends off for spots in the mail. They come wrapped in brown paper and string, something that always makes a package more intriguing. But inside, they are not the spots he expected. They are too big for his taste. Luckily though, more spots arrive. Some are too small, others too sparkly. Still others glow in the dark! But eventually after looking at lots of different options, our protagonist picks out some spots that are just perfect and they may not be what you may have expected. Yet they are just right for him.

Ward has written a winning book. Written in rhyme that is never forced but feel very natural, this book is a pleasure to share aloud. The real focus here are the illustrations and those are what make the book so interesting. A large part of the joy here is the silliness of a bird shopping for spots. That is made all the more fascinating because our guinea fowl hero is drawn very lifelike and reacts like a bird would. It is a delightful mix of reality and the rather farcical humor of shopping for dots and spots.

This book is about design and personal style without it being about pink things and tulle. So it’s a very refreshing addition to book shelves where children who have different tastes will find themselves imagining what spots would suit them in life. The design of the book itself is lovely with nods to leopard print and playful die cut pieces at times.

Very young readers will find lots to love here with pages that sparkly and some that have raised spots. It’s also a great book to inspire drawing or discussions of style. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Wednesday by Anne Bertier


Wednesday by Anne Bertier

Little Round and Big Square are the best of friends.  Every week on Wednesday, they get together to play their favorite game: one of them says a word and they both transform into it.  Big Square starts with “butterfly” and the two of them change into butterflies, Big Square with sharp angles and Little Round with half circles.  They go through “flower” and “mushroom” until Big Square gets carried away and starts naming lots of different things all at once, things that Little Round can’t shift into.  Soon the friends are arguing, but just like with any friendship there are rough patches and they both have to figure out how to fix it. 

Done in just two colors, the dot and the square and the many shapes they make pop on the page, the blue and orange contrasting vibrantly on the white background.  It is the illustrations that tell the story here, and the strong style they are done in is striking.  Children will immediately relate to both the square and the circle.  They may not have faces, but they convey emotions clearly on the page from anger to exuberance to friendship. 

Strong and vibrant, this picture book translated from the French, is a great pick for units on friendship or shapes.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.

Review: Windblown by Édouard Manceau


Windblown by Édouard Manceau

Scraps of paper blow across the page, first one then several appear.  But what are they and whose are they?  First the chicken insists they are his since he found them.  Then the fish says that he cut them from the paper.  Then the bird, the snail and the frog explain that they are theirs as well.  Each animal fits them to their body to demonstrate why they belong to them.  Then the wind itself speaks about blowing the pieces around and offers them to the reader, “What will you do?” 

Superbly simple and entirely engaging, readers will be playing along with the book before they even open the pages.  Manceau has cleverly selected shapes that fit together in many different ways.  He demonstrates this over and over again, then turns it all over to the reader to continue. 

This is also a book that would make a great art project for little ones.  Share the book, then give each child the pieces shown in the story to make their own picture.  An ideal way to end a creative story time.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Round Is a Tortilla by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

round is a tortilla

Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by John Parra

Explore shapes with two young members of a Mexican-American family.  The book begins with circles as they are seen in nests, bells, and food.  Readers will also get to find squares, rectangles, triangles, ovals, and stars.  Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the book and engagingly explained within the context.  There is also a glossary at the end of the book to help.  This is an engaging look at shapes with a charming Mexican vibe.

Done in rhyming couplets, the book has a strong lilting rhythm and reads aloud easily.  The writing is strong and never suffers from the structure of the rhymes.  Thong invites us into their home where we are made to feel welcome throughout the book.  It is a warmly written book about shapes that has an additional dimension with the Spanish words.

Parra’s illustrations have a wonderful texture to them, often looking like traditional art and aging painted walls.  They add even more warmth and character to this already rich book.

This is an enjoyable and simple look at shapes and Spanish that invites the reader to learn and to try new words.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

Review: Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman

swirl by swirl

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes

Two incredible talents worked together to bring us one of the most stunningly lovely books of the year.  It explores the different ways that spirals and swirls appear in nature.  There are the animals curled up for the winter underground, shells, unfurling ferns, hedgehogs, octopus tentacles, whirlpools and tornadoes.  This book is a masterpiece of simplicity and complexity, just like the swirls that it speaks about.

With verse by Joyce Sidman, winner of a Newbery Honor and illustrations by Caldecott winner Beth Krommes, this book is immediately something special.  The two have brought readers a poem spiraled inside intensely lovely images.  One gets the sense of unwinding a spiral when reading the verse, as it loops and dances.  The illustrations too are filled with a movement that is natural and free.

There is a simplicity about the verse that is misleading.  Sidman’s verse is tight and well crafted, showing a restraint and skill.  Krommes’ illustrations on the other hand are filled with details, lines of motion, and jewel tones.  Astonishingly lovely, the illustrations have a fully dimensional feel to them and celebrate the swirl and spiral to great effect.

Highly recommended, this book successfully celebrates shape, design, science and nature in a single beautiful work.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Check out the book trailer to see the illustrations for yourself:

Also reviewed by:

Book Review: Perfect Square by Michael Hall


Perfect Square by Michael Hall

One perfect square is transformed again and again into something surprising and new.  On Monday, the square had holes poked in it and was cut into pieces, so it became a fountain.  On Tuesday, the square was torn into scraps, so it became a garden.  Shredded strips became a park.  Shattered shards became a bridge.  Ribbons with curves became a river.  Wrinkles and crumples became a mountain.  Until finally, the square was just a square again and had to find a way to change within its four sides.  The result?  Triumphant!

This very simple premise offers small children a glimpse at art and inspiration.  It celebrates creativity, creating something new from something ripped, crumpled or sliced.  Hall sets the perfect tone with his brief text, allowing the images to do most of the work in the book.  My favorite part of the text is that the square is the one reinventing itself rather than an outside force doing the creativity.  It changes the dynamic of the book entirely.

I can see so many art project emerging from this book.  Get it into the hands of elementary art teachers in your school district!  If you enjoy crafts with your preschool story times, share some squares of paper in a variety of colors, offer scissors, hole punches, markers and more.  You just wait to see what those children create!  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by Fuse #8 and There’s a Book.