Book Review: Shape
ABC books. Number books. Shape books. All played out.
Hold on a sec. Similar to how a good singer can turn a corny song into a great one (have you checked the lyrics to Ignition (Remix) lately?), creativity can make a worn genre feel downright alive. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Color,Â David Goodman and Zoe Miller inject a refreshing sense of imagination into Shape. If youâ€™re going to start introducing youngsters to the world of the geometric, you can do no better than to put this engaging title in their hands.
Shape quickly reveals itself as a labor of love. Photographs, cut paper, cloth, and found objects are carefully laid out, giving each page a palpable hand made quality. The book begins with basic shape introductions, but clocking in at 64 pages, Shapeâ€™s length provide opportunities to go beyond the basic â€œthis is a triangleâ€-type text. The breadth of originality is something to see. All of the shapes are presented and used in clever ways that will delight readers. Not only do we learn that a triangle â€œhas three straight sides and three cornersâ€, but on the following pages we see triangular wood blocks used to create animals, and a forest of triangle-block trees (which is turned into a game as the text encourages readers to count the shapes). Beyond just triangles and squares, the book touches on elements of pattern, symmetry, and even three-dimensional shapes. Readers are often asked to interact with the pages through matching, naming, and searching activities. Glow-in-the-dark-ophiles will even find something to love here.
There are definitely some retro elements present. There is a hint of a “PBS in the 80’s” feel. The fact that most of the objects used to create the book have been around the block a time or two means that thereâ€™s plenty of nostalgia present. Pac-Man ghosts, erector sets, vinyl 45s â€“ heck, even wooden blocks may come across as foreign to some youngsters. These throwbacks are mixed in with newer media, however, so the overall effect doesnâ€™t give off too much of a â€œremember the good olâ€™ daysâ€ vibe. And, honestly, the fact that many of the objects are not familiar to kids may increase interest, rather than discouraging it.
Lovingly created, visually remarkable, yet basic enough to be shared with pre-readers, Shape is a book you should have on the shelf.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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