Fleming’s signature pulp-painted backgrounds set the stage for a performance featuring an assemblage of shapes; created from patterned handmade papers, the forms are choreographed in their activity by a madcap mouse on wheels.
“Slide, SQUARE, and start the show!” he cries, zooming around the double-page spreads. The labeled shapes, from “small ovals” to “thin rectangles,” cross each gutter from verso to recto as the pages turn, until the contours of a creature are discernable. Children will enjoy predicting at various points in the narrative; a monkey would be the correct guess for the first animal. Motion lines drawn with pastels combine with expressive verbs, rhyming couplets and playful phrases to animate the narrative: “Bibbity bop!” Although Fleming presents a veritable smorgasbord of early learning (shapes, colors, directions and concepts), there is also a dramatic arc with tension and humor. When the mouse careens into the loosely placed papers, they scatter and re-form—into a cat! The denouement is a bit untidy, leaving readers with inquiring minds questioning what happens to the feline, after a page turn reveals a new monkey made with different paper, but they will feel relief that all’s well that ends well.
The title will surely inspire children to create and deconstruct their own geometric dramas. (Picture book. 2-6)