Cover image for The shape game
The shape game
Browne, Anthony, 1946-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 x 29 cm
The author/illustrator describes how his mother's wish to spend her birthday visiting an art museum with her family changed the course of his life forever.
Reading Level:
AD 570 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.8 0.5 74244.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.9 1 Quiz: 34465 Guided reading level: K.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Art makes a difference! The same family that had such an enlightening experience in Anthony Browne's Zoo is now going to an art museum, Mom's choice for her birthday treat. But wisecracking Dad and their two sons are skeptical about how much fun this trip will be, and they're not quite sure what to make of the art. ("What on earth is that supposed to be?" asks Dad.) But, with Mom's help, once the boys start really looking at the paintings, they begin to find what pleasures they contain. Most of the family leave with a new appreciation of art - Dad is just never going to get it - as well as a sketchbook. On the trip home, Mom teaches the boys - and readers - a drawing game, which one of her sons (this book's author) has been playing ever since.This new book is the product of Anthony Browne's engagement as writer-and-illustrator-in-residence at the Tate Britain in London. There he worked with a thousand children from inner-city schools, teaching literature using the resources in the gallery - and playing the shape game. In his artwork for the book, he surreally transforms, in his signature style, some famous paintings in the Tate's collection.

Author Notes

Anthony Browne is the author and illustrator of many books, including Zoo , Changes , and My Dad . The recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, he lives in Kent, England.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K-Gr. 2. It turns out to be a day that changed my life forever, says a grown-up artist at the beginning of this autobiographical story about a childhood trip to an art museum. Dad and brother George are bored, and at first the young artist is, too. Then Mom encourages her family to find the stories, and their own lives, in the pictures. A brilliant drawing game with shapes ends the day. As in titles such as Changes (1990) and Gorilla (1983) , Browne once again combines expertly drafted, surreal images and simple words to show a child's complicated emotions. Without telling too much, he gives a palpable sense of family tension, particularly when Dad tells horrible, sometimes cutting jokes. But the boys find delicious, empowering escape when they imagine their father in the world of the paintings, where he roller-skates in tiny shorts or is chased by a lion. Browne blurs the real and imagined in wonderful spreads that juxtapose scenes at the museum (including striking reproductions of famous works) with the boys' fantasies. The artist's self-referential viewpoint, telling the story as an adult looking back, seems unnecessary. But Browne's unforgettable paintings and basic words tell a powerful, layered story that will encourage children to find their own connections--and subversive fun--at the museum. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4-Browne describes how an eye-opening family trip to a museum changed his life forever. A m?lange of art appreciation, personal inspiration, groan-outloud puns, and imagination-stretching illustrations. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.