Where do the seven colored shapes come from, and whose are they?
As the shapes come blowing across the clean, white pages, the chicken, the fish, the bird, the snail and the frog each in turn claim them using simple repetitive phrases. "They're mine!" says the chicken, created when the shapes arrange themselves in the form of its head. "I saw them lying around!" But it turns out only the wind has the power to transform the puzzlelike paper shapes into the bodies of each creature and to finally blow them high in the air so readers can “catch” them and make their own (imaginary) collages. The shapes arrange themselves differently on each page to challenge children to see them as different animals. French illustrator Manceau makes extravagant use of white space; the page opposite the text that reveals the wind’s role in the drama is amusingly blank. The typeface looks light and insubstantial in relation to the strong graphic line of the illustrations. The text reads clumsily in places, possibly a poor translation from the French original, and is so sparse that some spreads are unsatisfying.
A book that at first glance might seem minimalist to the point of vacuity bears closer scrutiny when one appreciates the function the paper shapes can have in allowing a child to identify them in different orientations and even to practice counting. (Picture book. 3-7)