A series of solid shapes substitute for natural objects in this board book that is somewhere between concept book and riddle game.
What’s that shape supposed to be? Running across a rust-brown labeled triangle, amid trees and elk, the text “Climb a TRIANGLE to the top” suggests the shape is a mountain; in an ocean scene with a red “STAR washed in on the waves,” the shape implies a sea star. Ample visual cues give young readers enough context to guess what the shape evokes, with some unexpected touches, such as “HEXAGON” printed on hexagonal honeycombs buzzing with bees and surrounded by golden flowers. Short, commanding sentences keep things humming, but with only six shapes covered, the book feels all too brief. Illustrator Devernay combines delicate pencil line drawings and sketchy gray-black shading with tiny, meticulously cut colored-paper collage to create her plants and animals. The most intimate drawings amaze. Close-ups of smooth stones are so appealing that readers will long to pick one up and “rub a smooth OVAL between thumb and finger.” Sadly, the cover doesn’t do the interior justice, and things get murky when several hues mix there and on the final spread. But on other spreads, where there’s a single color, it pops against the gray, such as the minute yellow beaks on the flock of charcoal birds circling the yellow “CIRCLE” sun.
Don’t judge this book by its cover; there’s an unusual concept and whimsical illustrations hiding underneath. (Board book. 1-3)