HONDA GOWLER GREENE is a former elementary and preschool teacher. She received her master's in educational media from Xavier University in 1983. She is also the author of Barnyard Song. James Kaczman received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Massachusetts College of Art in 1982 and also studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He lives in a beautiful, green valley somewhere in the North, where he is a full-time illustrator. He resides there with his wife, Libby, his son, Henry, and a wire fox terrier named Chauncey, who is a funny, charming fellow.
PreS-Gr 2‘Ten shapes are presented in picture and verse. Along with the familiar circle, square, triangle, diamond, rectangle, octagon, and oval are the less frequent star, heart, and crescent. Each shape has its own verse and double-page spread packed with visual examples. There are even some extras for observant children to discover. The watercolor-and-ink illustrations are bold and clean, with ample color; however, a texturing technique occasionally results in a slightly murky appearance. At no time does this texturing obscure the text or interfere with line or shape. Those tired of bright primary colors in children's books may find the muting a nice change. A fine addition to units on shapes and a perky read-aloud.‘Jody McCoy, Lakehill Preparatory School, Dallas, TX
In this well-conceived, bouncy and colorful primer, Greene (Barnyard Song) builds up various geometric figures from a line, the simplest element of every shape: "A line is thin. A line is narrow‘/ curved like a worm, straight as an arrow." Each spread acquaints readers with a single shape, from a square to a triangle to a circle. Beyond the basics, there are ovals ("An oval's like a circle, except it's not as stout. Two sides go in to make it thin. Two other sides go out"), diamonds ("A ballerina's legs form one when bending at the knees") and crescents ("It is a smile when curving up, when down it is a frown"). The introductions stop, appropriately, with a red octagon ("you see it at the corner. It tells the cars to wait"). Like concrete poetry, each verse takes on the shape it describes. Kaczman, in a remarkable picture book debut, incorporates images with sharp angles and smooth curves in full-bleed double-page spreads that orchestrate all of the elements of Greene's text. His precise renderings, evenly filled ink blocks and animal characters suggest J.otto Seibold's computer-generated geometric forms; however, his watercolors are slightly mottled, creating a grainy texture. In this clever and fun introduction to the assorted shapes, Greene and Kaczman collaborate effectively, clearly expounding an oval, square or octagon through bouncy rhyme, familiar examples and clean-edged artwork. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)