cover image THE SHAPE GAME


Anthony Browne, . . FSG, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36764-0

The family that visited animals in Zoo here takes a trip to London's Tate Britain museum. Browne, as the museum's writer-and-illustrator-in-residence, taught children from inner-city schools using the Tate's resources, and this book—offering a clever and quirky visual interpretation of some of the museum's offerings—grew out of that experience. Though the young narrator, his brother and constantly wise-cracking father agree (rather reluctantly) to accompany the boy's mother to the museum on her birthday, he comments that "it turned out to be a day that changed my life forever." As Mom poses questions that encourage the others to analyze the images and action in various works of art, the family is drawn into the paintings—quite literally. Real and surreal events collide as the family members replace characters in the art, and the goings-on within and beyond the frames becomes comically blurred. On the way home, Mom teaches the boys what the narrator calls "a brilliant drawing game," in which one person draws a shape ("any shape, it's not supposed to be anything, just a shape") and the next person adds to it, changing it "into something." The endpapers present examples of some of the lively images that can result from this inviting exercise. This personal, playful introduction to art and drawing may well give readers a fresh take on both. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)