Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Senses And Spheres

When you hold a fresh picked cherry or apple in your hands, the silky surface of their skin is a prelude to perfection, a sweet first bite into taste grown by months of sun and rain.  In picking up the hard blue ball, a new addition to my puppy's toys, the rough outer cover shows signs of hours of play, bonding over throw and fetch.  A handful of marbles is more than a handful of marbles.  It represents weeks of recesses on the school playground spent in endless games with lines and circles drawn in the dirt and small holes as evidence of classic wins and losses.  Round is not simply a shape, it's memories too numerous to count.

When you begin to focus your gaze literally and mentally on a specific element, you start to see it everywhere.  Round (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March 7, 2017) written by Joyce Sidman with illustrations by Taeeun Yoo draws our attention to this very real phenomenon.  If you stop where you are right this minute and look around you, how much round is there?

I love round things.

There are curves to enjoy in round things.  Hold one in your hand.  How does it make you feel?  From round things other things, some round and some not, grow.

Some round things start out small but get bigger and bigger and bigger.  We can watch them bloom, taste them or smell them.  If we live for hundreds of years, we can see shapes not round at all, worn to roundness.

We all know the miracle of something round moving.  It puts squares, rectangles and triangles to shame.  Can you think of places where something round is hidden from view?  Can you think of round things with surprises hidden inside?

When you throw a pebble in a pond, round spreads out.  When you stop to think about it, sometimes the presence of round is fleeting or lasts longer than we can imagine.  Wherever you go, at any hour, round is there.  Sense it.  Remember it.

The four words we read written by Joyce Sidman in the first sentence are also used to close this title, giving us a circle story about the shape round.  She makes this narrative personal by using words like I and my.  Each remark is based upon sensory perceptions of those things noticed in nature.  She broadens her focus by including motion and mathematics.  She makes the shape comforting in her final poetic descriptions.  Here is a sample passage.

I love how water can be round,
gathered in beads of silver...
or falling in wet splats,
leaving circles of ripples behind.

Opening the matching dust jacket and book case you can feel the round reaching out to envelope you.  The large glowing yellow moon contrasting with the blues and blacks of night spreads off the page as do the crystal clear blown bubbles against the circular sunset sky to the left on the back.  The father, little girl, dog and duck found on the front are a part of nearly all the images.  The bright sky blue from the front becomes the color for the opening and closing endpapers.

Rendered in

mixed media with printed texture

the illustrations heighten the text and exalt the shape round.  Let's look at the first picture as an example.  The girl is bending over to pick up an orange.  She is outside beneath a bright sun.  The hat on her head is round.  She is wearing overalls with polka-dots, white on green.  On her pink boots are circular flowers.

Taeeun Yoo seamlessly shifts her points of view bringing us close to the objects or giving us a more expanded scene.  She has us standing back to watch the girl drop seeds in a hole with the duck watching but on the next page we move in closer as the girl and her dog quietly watch through parted grasses as a turtle walks away from a hole where eggs have been laid.  Her image sizes change from single page to double page depending on the text.  All are edge to edge.  To add interest Taeeun places the characters in different seasons.

One of my favorite of many illustrations spans two pages.  Across the top we see, on the left, the bare feet of the girl among plants.  To the right her dog is looking very closely at the objects of attention.  Along the bottom four balls of dung are being rolled from left to right by beetles.  This illustrates the remarkable characteristics of round and our ability to find it everywhere.

This poetic approach to a shape will have readers of all ages looking at the world around them with a different set of senses.  Round written by Joyce Sidman with illustrations by Taeeun Yoo is a tribute and an invitation.  Two pages at the conclusion expand with more detail on round is...cozy, sturdy, spreads out, rolls, is balanced and is beautiful.  I know you all will want this wonderful book in your professional and personal collections.  You could pair it with The Wing On A Flea by Ed Emberley, Color Zoo and Color Farm by Lois Ehlert, or Perfect Square and My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall.  I am already thinking of starting a Pinterest board on shape books or linking to previously created ones here.

To discover more about Joyce Sidman and Taeeun Yoo and their work please follow the links attached to their names to access their respective web sites.  They both maintain blogs here and here.  At this publisher's site you can view interior images.


  1. LOVE Joyce Sidman so much! The cover is gorgeous. So looking forward to reading this one. Do you know of Joyce's challenge, findroundthings? It's on FB & IG (maybe twitter too, but I'm not on twitter)

    1. I love her too Maria! The whole book is gorgeous in text and images. I am heading off to find the challenge. I need to add it to this post. Thank you!