Zebra Stripes Go Head to Toe by. S. & S. Shapiro
Shapiro, Sheryl and Simon Shapiro. Zebra Stripes Go Head to Toe. Toronto: Annick Press, 2013. Print.
The truth must be stated: the cover of this title aroused false hope in one particular five-year-old. Selecting it from a proffered array of picture books, he cried, “I want a story about a zebra!” It wasn’t.
Still, it was a beautifully illustrated introduction to geometric shapes and terms: squares, cubes, and (mostly parallel) lines. The Shapiros build concepts with colorful and distinct examples that are quite within the experience, real or vicarious, of children. We see building blocks, crosswalks, and, yes, the striped patterning of the zebra on the front cover. The text, a series of rhyming couplets, is both playful and informative. The font is very suitable for kindergarten or primary grades. Undoubtedly, the book can be used to develop a child’s spatial understanding and linguistic precision.
What then to do about that not so small problem: the dashed hopes that arise when a book that promises to be about a zebra turns out to be a math text? Next time, this reviewer will preface its offering with a statement of fact: “This book can make arithmetic fun.”
Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Leslie Aitken
Leslie Aitken’s long career in librarianship involved selection of children’s literature for school, public, special, and university collections. She is a former Curriculum Librarian at the University of Alberta.
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