Review of The Shape of You, by Muon Thi Van, illustrated by Miki Sato

The Shape of You

by Muon Thi Van
illustrated by Miki Sato

Kids Can Press, 2023. 32 pages.
Review written August 23, 2023, from a library book.
Starred Review

Here’s a picture book that gently leads children into abstract thinking and ends up with love.

I’m not a huge fan of picture books about how much a child is loved — Although every family should have some books like that, they have to be something special to stand out. This book is something special.

First, the art is cut paper skillfully rendered with depth and shadows. Objects at a distance are gently blurred. The images are beautiful and sweet — especially of the mother, child, and dog.

The book starts looking at the shapes of things you can see, including a rectangle door and a square table. Then it gently gets more abstract, first with things you can see:

The shape of this water
is a cup,
but sometimes it’s a cube

or a cloud.

This beautiful spread is still something you can see, but now they’re talking about the concept of “shape” more abstractly:

The shape of light
is all the colors of the sunset —

red, yellow, blue,
tangerine, chartreuse, mulberry, tan.

It progresses to completely abstract, such as, “The shape of thinking is quiet,” and “The shape of learning is a question.”

One of my favorite spreads has a knitted scarf on the cut-paper child, with the wind blurred in the distance:

The shape of the wind
is a scarf flapping.

And the book finishes up with shapes that change, but the wonderful reminders:

The shape of my fingers
will always fit yours.

And the shape of my love
will always be you.

A sweet story about love, edging into abstract thinking, that could be a wonderful conversation starter. What shapes do you see and feel around you?

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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