The first two entries in the Shapes & Spaces series feature eye-catching and varied photos with lots of kid appeal. Unfortunately, the art, rhyming verse and development of the concepts fail to add up to solid learning tools.
“A square has every / side the same, // and lots of them / can make a game.” From flat squares to cubes, the photos show a wide variety of examples from the everyday world: an empty box serving as a toy house, blocks, the pattern of a soccer net. But even the youngest readers are sure to notice the glaring examples—window panes and a chocolate-covered cookie—that show rectangles instead of squares. The authors then inexplicably move from shapes to an exploration of stripes (a pattern!) about two-thirds into the book. Ladybugs Have Lots of Spots (978-1-55451-557-8), stronger than its companion, focuses only on circles, spheres and cylinders. “Round black tires, / lots of tread, / go on green / and stop on red.” The examples here are just as varied and kid-friendly: buttons, a hula hoop, the inside of a tube slide, polka dots, a cat’s collar, the holes in a watering can. Both books end rather abruptly and lack any note about how to use/extend the concepts with children.
Vivid and fun examples cannot make up for fundamental flaws. (Concept book. 3-5)