Walter’s Wonderful Web: a book about shapes
From the Publisher:
“A determined little spider named Walter is trying to make a sturdy web that will stand up to the blustery wind. The webs he makes at first are woven in special shapes–a triangle, a square, a circle–but they are still wibbly-wobbly. Can Walter make a web that is both wonderful and strong? This simple, vibrant adventure is a lively companion to our two previous Hopgood “first books” about colors and the senses.”
The coloured pencil/crayon and chalk-like illustrations evoke a classic feel to this book. The use of a white chalk streaks and leaves in motion clearly show the movement of the wind blowing on the webs. The cheerful smile and bright eyes of the spider make an otherwise potentially scary creature look friendly and engaging. Younger kids will respond to the colourful images and action language and older toddlers will be able to fully engage with the shapes and basic tenets of design in structures.
My three kids all loved the brightly coloured illustrations in this book. My almost 3-yo commented on the use of non-perfect crayon-like drawings for the shapes (webs) and said that the spider “drew” lines just like she did (identifying with and making connections to the character). Some of the language was new to her, so we reviewed what words like “determined” and “shone”. Of course, the finer points of the shapes were beyond my 15 mos old twins, but the book and words captured their attention throughout. All three kids laughed and responded to some of the new/rich language such as “wobbly-wobbly” and wanted me to repeat it. The repeated word “Woosh!” for the wind blowing enabled me to add actions and emphasis when reading, which the kids loved.
Why/How Use it with kids:
This is a great book to link shapes to nature – an investigation of the ways that shapes are used in the natural world. Here are some ideas:
- brainstorm items in nature (of those you can see from the window, etc.) that look like simple shapes (circles, squares, triangles, etc.)
- when reading the story, work on prediction by having the child guess what will happen to each “shape web” and the end/last web creation. Ask “why” this happened and why the web made of all the shapes might be stronger.
- for non-readers, review the shape names by having them give you the name on each page that has a web focusing on that shape. Use the final web as a place to recognize/point out all the different shapes.
- go on a walk to see if you can find any spider webs – if you can get close enough, see what shapes you can see. Going right after a rain can help you see the detail in the web because of the water droplets hanging on it.
- create a sheet of shapes (basic shapes) with blank space beside each one and have your child identify items in nature that match those shapes. Depending on their age, have them draw or write the names of the items beside the shapes.
- create your own geoboard and have children use string for a web to make shapes or their own spider web.
- for older readers, begin a discussion of the features of structure and design and what shapes help create strength in a design and why. How/why do we mimic nature when building things?
About the Author:
Award-winning author/illustrator Tim Hopgood lives with his wife, two kids and cats in York, England and has created more than 10 children’s books. Tim’s favourite colour is blue, and one of his favourite albums to work to is ‘A Kind Of Blue’ by Miles Davis.