Written by Diana Murray, Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Little, Brown and Company, 2016
A pigeon takes flight through the bright cityscape,
Exploring the scenery…SHAPE after SHAPE.
The plot in a nutshell: A city is comprised of lots of different shapes.
A pigeon flies around the city and as she flies, she notices the similarity of shapes in all of the buildings, cars and elements she sees. Trucks, carts and boxes are square, while skyscrapers, benches and scarves are rectangles. Sails in the harbor and flags on banners are triangles and circles can be found in taxi tires and manhole covers. Kites are diamonds in the sky that are replaced with stars when the sun goes down. But the very best shape is the circle of her nest, because that’s the shape of home.
This was the debut of author Diana Murray, who drew inspiration from her walks around New York City. I love the idea of using urban environments as a basis for a book about shapes, since there is usually a lot of geometric variety in architecture and nature in big city landscapes. The book’s text is present in rhyming couplets that flow in a very easy and comfortable way, sometimes starting on one page and finishing on the next, which gives kids the opportunity to guess what shape is coming next.
Illustrator Bryan Collier uses watercolor and collage to really make these images pop and they are vibrant with color and life. Mr. Collier used his daughter as the model for the main character of the book, who is our guide through the city, and she has a wonderful presence and cheerful energy on each page. The pictures present lots of visual imagery and it’s worth the effort to examine each picture for all the shapes to be found in it. I enjoyed meeting Mr. Collier at the Inspiration Day event and hearing him talk about the inspiration that drew him to use collage as a regular medium.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that there are lots of different shapes out there and they all come together to make the world around us.