Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, November 14, 2014

Geometric Gymnastics

Some people look at a pumpkin and only see a pumpkin.  Other people look at ivy and see nothing more than a blur of green.  Still more people look at a pot and see an everyday container for plants.  Most people look at snow and simply see snow.

If you are author illustrator Denise Fleming you will see circles, ovals, stars, triangles, curves, rectangles and lines, lots of lines.  You will understand perhaps, the combination of these creates something where no two are ever alike.  When you look, you see balance and beauty.  Go, Shapes, Go! (Beach Lane Books, October 7, 2014), Denise Fleming's latest title, explores the world of shapes and what they can form.

SHAPES are in place
and ready to go!

Sixteen shapes, a square, a triangle, a small arc, an arc, a circle, an oval, two small ovals, two tiny circles, two thin rectangles, two big rectangles, and two half circles, are placed on a page.  A small mouse scooting on wheels shouts out maneuvers like a musical choreographer.  First getting in the groove, the square makes a move.

Smooth forms shimmy and shake.  I wonder what the circle, oval and arc will make.  Lines, angles, and rectangles to the front get ready for their part in this stunt.  All the tiny pieces scurry into position, the mouse's voice giving them permission.

Say! Hey! This newly created jolly, jaunty forest friend is eager to play. Oh! No! The mouse is in out-of-control motion.  Tallyho! Yikes!

Mouse gives a shout.  Fallen shapes, every single one, assemble.  What's that we see?  Mouse begins to tremble.  Is this the end? Let's hope Mouse finds his friend.

Denise Fleming is a rhyming wizard.  Each phrase begins with a single action word spoken by the mouse giving direction to the shapes.  The final word in each group ties to the next in rhyme.  She has created a catchy cadence in this narrative of shapes thinking for themselves when given the chance.  Here are two.

Bounce, OVAL,
up and down.
round and round.

Beautifully rendered in her unique style, Denise Fleming poured the backgrounds adding cut purchased handmade paper with pastel accents for her illustrations.  In looking at the matching dust jacket and book case, readers know they are in for an animated, textured treat.  To compliment the vibrant orange-red and lime green, the endpapers are soft plain purple.  The mouse is dashing across the title page as if coming down from the top of the front jacket and case.

With the first and last page of the story as the only exceptions, all of the pictures span two pages edge to edge.  No backgrounds are identical but all are rich and bold serving to highlight the shapes and the text.  Prior to the shapes leaving to make mouse's pal, they are identified in smaller print.

As the mouse's companion is made one of my favorite illustrations is after the small arc is added.  We get to see emotion, as well as the motion we have noted in the previous pages, in his smile as his eyes look down at his new feature.  Mouse's single eye is looking directly at the reader.

As a read aloud the rhythm and rhymes of Go, Shapes, Go! written and illustrated by Denise Fleming will have you singing and your listeners dancing within the first few pages.  Not only is this a lively presentation of shapes but a happily-ever-after story too.  Mouse makes a marvelous director.

If you have never visited Denise Fleming's website before, you will want to go there now by following the link embedded in her name.  There is much to be learned about her and her work.  She has numerous activities to accompany her books.  Here is a link to the page for Go, Shapes, Go!  This links to the printable PDF.  Enjoy the book trailer.

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