As soon as I spotted this book in my library’s new picture book section, I had a feeling I was on to a winner.For one thing, it has “A FIRST BOOK ABOUT SHAPES” smack dab on the cover, and I’m always looking for books that can introduce important concepts in a fun way. Now that I’ve read this story, I see that Tim Hopgood has other books about colors and senses, and I can’t wait to include them in storytime!
This story is about a cute, crayon-style spider named Walter who needs to figure out the best shape to make his web so it won’t blow away in the wind. I liked that this book is short, but manages to pack in an interesting story that would engage 2-3 year olds. Let’s see how it holds up with the individual components:
Text (amount, diction, font and size)
The text is short and wonderfully to the point. The narration is third person, uses fun phrases like “wibbly-wobbly, and has fun sound effects for the wind. I love that the story has an easy repetition as Walter tries to make his web into a triangle, square, and rectangle, which fail each time: it’s a great opportunity to kids to predict what will happen next and recognize basic story structure. The font also varies and would be easy to read for a small crowd of children.
Illustrations (line work, colors, size, and amount of “negative” white space, which is undesirable in a storytime book)
Tim Hopgood is a man who knows his way around a great picture book illustration: each page is saturated with distinct shapes and colors that are big and easy to see. Walter is also very expressive for a little spider, and I like that he’s friendly. There’s very negative space, and the illustrations of the shapes are especially good (it would be easy to help kids observe the shape characteristics). The easy crayon-style illustration remind me of a child’s drawing, which is an appeal factor.
Theme (concept and story)
This book is what it says on the tin: an introduction to shapes, with a basic plot of a main character failing four times before overcoming a problem. I liked the fact that Walter’s final web not only rocks, but combines all the shapes introduced previously.
Best age fit
While I feel the basic story is good for 2-3 year olds, I could easily see this story working in a preschool storytime as well. The preschoolers would be able to participate by blowing to make the wind as well as drawing shapes with their fingers in the air.
Possible early literacy connections
Background knowledge for introducing shapes and narrative skills for predicting what happens. Understanding shapes is the precursor to letter knowledge, so it’s one of the most valuable skills a toddler can acquire!
As I mentioned in the introduction, I’m excited to see that Tim Hopgood has other concept stories about senses and colors!
I really like that this book, like so many picture books, introduces failure in an less intimidating way and brings in early expression and creativity. I’d love to see Walter up there with Pete the Cat.