Thursday, May 12, 2016

Shape Shift by Joyce Hesselberth

Title:  Shape Shift

Illustrator:  Joyce Hesselberth

Target Ages:  1-6

First Lines:  
“Look around.  What shapes to you see?  I see a rectangle house with a trapezoid roof.  I see a triangle tree.  Shapes are all around us.  Once you know how to find them, you can use shapes to make anything you’d like.”

Publisher Summary:
Look around.  What shapes to you see?  Do you see an oval, a diamond, and a square?  Or do you see a clown upside down?  Or even a watermelon?  Use your imagination—there’s no end to the possibilities. 

The book begins by introducing 9 shapes—triangle, semi-circle, crescent, trapezoid, rectangle, circle, oval, diamond, and square. First, all the shapes are labeled with their names to encourage sight word recognition.  Second, I like that non-traditional concept book shapes are included like trapezoid, semi-circle, and crescent. 

In several sequences, the two characters, along with their dog, introduce a couple shapes. Then, they work together to come up with an imaginative way to combine them into everyday objects.  For instance, the girls see an angry bull. She combines the crescent with the trapezoid and some additional embellishments to create a picture of one. 

There are some other concepts included. Several times onomatopoeia is used to go along with the picture created, such as splish, splash, swish (for a fish) and zooma-zoom (for a car). Young children can participate in the silly sounds. Each shape is a different color, providing opportunities to teach or to practice identifying colors.  At the end, the group counts to 10. Parents and educators can point to each number and count along. 

The mixed media and digital paint drawings are lots of fun!  The characters display a variety of emotions and lots of energy through their imaginative explorations. 

The many opportunities for interacting, learning, and imagining make Shape Shift an essential book for any early childhood classroom or home library.   

My Heart is Like a Zoo and Perfect Square by Michael Hall both use some similar concepts.  The three books would compliment each other well in a lesson or reading session.

Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans:
  • Concepts: Ideal for teaching or reviewing concepts like colors, counting, and numbers.
  • Math: Give out physical copies of the shapes either from a math kit or cut out on thick cardstock. For younger children, ask them to hold up each shape as you call it out. For older children, give them a shape and a number. Then give them the chance to find the shape and count out the appropriate number.  Assess comprehension of the 2 skills.
  • Art: Cut out different shapes in advance.  Instruct children to create their own pictures from real or imagined ideas.
  • Motor Skills:  Practice drawing the different shapes.  Color each one a different color.  Assess how well the shapes are duplicated as well as if the child can identify them and the colors.
Visit Suzanna Hill’s Blog for the Perfect Picture Book Weekly Round up.


  1. This really is a non-traditional concept book! I like how it encourages kids to be present and aware of the shapes around them. Guarantee you that I will. Nice selection!

  2. I think I'm going to like this book! It sounds similar to a car game my daughter and I play where one of us chooses a color, shape, or number and the other has to list 5 things they see that are either round, green, or include a particular number.

  3. I'll have to find this - the cover is engaging!

  4. Ooh, cool book! We're just about to start a geometry unit. I'm going to look for this one!

  5. Ooh! Love these kinds of books. Denise Fleming's book GO SHAPES GO! is another one to compare it to, using the shifting shape idea.

  6. Sounds like a fun game, Leslie. Thanks for the suggestion, Wendy. I hope you all enjoy this one.

  7. Yes, I too, love the cover. And the idea of shifting shapes is wonderful!


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