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Children’s book author and illustrator Kenneth Kraegel (a member of the Christian Reformed Church) has done it again. He’s demonstrated his award-winning storytelling skills in four picture books (Green Pants, The Song of Delphine, and King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson, and Wild Honey from the Moon). Now he has written his first board book, This Is a Book of Shapes. The ability to recognize shapes is a signal of preschool readiness, but Kraegel goes beyond merely drawing and naming shapes. He adds delightful silliness to the education, making this a book that children will ask for again and again—and that adults won’t mind reading over and over.

The book starts off normally enough: “This is a circle. This is a square. This is a triangle.” But then, “This is an emu pushing a pancake wagon down a hill.” Kraegel gives us a two-page spread of a detailed illustration in bright and cheerful colors of a purple and blue emu cheerfully pushing a red wagon full of pancakes. He does this two more times, interrupting the shapes with “a porpoise reading a book of knock-knock jokes to three silly sea turtles'' and “a rhinoceros wearing a jetpack and skateboarding across the desert while singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.’”

Children will learn eight basic shapes, but they’ll also enjoy the randomness of the interludes, the personalities of the animals, and the details of the different landscapes. You can’t help but smile. (Candlewick)

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