A father-daughter-son trip to the pumpkin patch is an opportunity to point out shapes while enjoying the sights and tastes of the season.
In her debut, Chernesky goes beyond the basics—circles, squares, rectangles and triangles—by including ovals, diamonds, hexagons, hearts and stars. Each shape is given a double-page spread on which it predominates, though others can be picked out, too. This presents plot problems. The family is supposedly on a hayride to the pumpkin patch, but inexplicably, it is often seen not on a wagon—they stop to fly kites, investigate honeycombs, peek in the barn and don’t even appear on the pages devoted to rectangles. The verse sometimes limps, but the text helps beginning readers by highlighting the shape words as well as one related vocabulary word: “Gather OVALS! Squash and corn. / Speckled EGGS nest in the barn.” Swan’s artwork, which appears to be digital and collage, is full of textures and patterns, fall colors dominating the palette. But the contrast among the elements sometimes overwhelms the page design, the scenes a hodgepodge of elements that don’t always meld (people’s faces seem to be the worst offenders).
This is neither the best shape book nor the best fall book out there, though if teachers are looking to combine the topics, this may be a good choice. (Picture book. 2-5)