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THE SHAPE GAME by Anthony Browne


by Anthony Browne & illustrated by Anthony Browne

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 2003
ISBN: 0-374-36764-7
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Children who respond to fine art with indifference may change their tunes in the wake of this decidedly un-boring family outing to the galleries of London’s Tate Britain. In Browne’s hands, it’s a Tate transformed. In or alongside reproductions of actual paintings, he adds labels, suggests connections, and makes changes both playful or thought-provoking: a scowling lad poses next to John Martin’s thunderous Great Day of His Wrath, for instance; a historical battle scene is recast with modern figures; and a lion steps down from a dramatic George Stubbs painting to glare at the family’s wisecracking father—who makes further appearances as Napoleon, as an old salt in Millais’s Boyhood of Raleigh, and as everyone in Peter Blake’s The Meeting, or Have a Nice Day, Mr. Hockney. Browne’s title refers to a closing game, in which one player draws an abstract shape and another turns it into something recognizable. The visit turns the young narrator (Browne?) into an artist; it may not be such a life-changing experience for readers, but they will come away armed with several engaging ways to enliven their approach to art. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)