The Shape Game

by Anthony Browne

Inspired by his time spent as writer-and-illustrator-in-residence at the Tate Britain... read more

Inspired by his time spent as writer-and-illustrator-in-residence at the Tate Britain gallery in London, Anthony Browne offers children a lighthearted portal to art. This large picture book follows a museum visit by an elementary-school-age boy, his brother, and his parents. The family members’ response to the museum experience initially ranges from transparent boredom (older brother) to eager anticipation (mother). Gradually, the family is united as they are drawn in by the wide-ranging art on display. Initially shown in shades of gray and white, each person’s outfit becomes suffused with vibrant color as they surrender to the experience. Each page invites close inspection, as Browne transplants elements of this ordinary looking family (and other random elements) into the art they are viewing, making it surreal. One of the funniest spreads shows plump Dad simultaneously cast as all eight people in Peter Blake’s work The Meeting or Have a Nice Day, Mr. Hockney , as he rollerblades, strolls, and travels shirtless through a park. On their way home, the energized family plays the “Shape Game” of the title, with one person drawing an abstract shape and another transforming it into something recognizable. The author/artist concludes, “in a way, I’ve been playing the shape game ever since.” (Ages 5–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

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