Cover of Shape Me a Rhyme by Jane Yolen and Jason Stemple

Shape Me a Rhyme

Photographs by Jason Stemple
Boyds Mills, 2007
ISBN# 978-2-59078-450-1

This book was meant to be a companion to our successful COLOR ME A RHYME and COUNT ME A RHYME. Again I consciously decided to make the poems simpler and to concentrate on rhyming poems.

But finding shapes in nature-after sun being round and moon being crescent shaped and heart shaped leaves and whorls of a shell-can be tough, especially with the straight-lined shapes. So we had to become inventive-a classical rectangle shadow on fronds, triangular alligator teeth, etc.

See Jason’s website for his own take on the book:


  • On nomination list for Cybils in the poetry section.

What reviewers have said:

  • “This engaging poetry series features beautiful illustrations and eye-catching photography displays that encourages deep exploration…The photography features simple symmetric forms that may be overlooked but brings another meaning the object itself. The poetry allows young readers to view simple shapes on an emotional level. Whimsical and wondrous; works that open up nature to young readers in a delightful fashion.”—Akron, OH Examiner
  • “A beautiful, children’s picturebook, matching brief poems…with stunningly beautiful color photographs of natures creatures…”—Midwest Review
  • “Yolen’s delightful word pictures are paired to great effect with Stemple’s impressive color photographs.”—School Library Journal
  • “Indefatigable author Yolen and her photographer son make another foray in an extremely engaging series. These titles are beautifully designed, displaying eye-catching photography and inventive use of typography and placement.…Very enjoyable , and allows for much exploration.”—Kirkus
  • “Oh, this is an AWESOME book! Think of every book you’ve ever read to a child about shapes. Now forget it because this book is NOTHING like that. Stunning photography and engaging rhyme will make this book a favorite for your family. and will encourage your little ones to see the shapes that are all around them.”—
  • “As always, Yolen’s poetry manages to be both simple and deep. Her words are accessible, but each poem will have children thinking more deeply than they may have expected. What a testimony to her gift as a poet. Stemple’s photographs offer a real visual treat. From the fiery ball of the sun with grassy silhouettes before it to the arch of a sand dollar half hidden in the sand, his photographs add another dimension to the poems. My favorite poem is that of the rectangle where readers will find rectangles reflected in the strands of a spider web. Made me want to immediately head outdoors and find shapes in my local spider webs. Just lovely.Recommended to add a little poetry to a mathematics class looking at shapes. It will also be a welcome addition to kindergarten classrooms where it may inspire an outdoor expedition for shapes in nature.”—Green Lake Library
  • “The concept is simple but brilliant…The poems and photographs are beautiful, and together they make quite a book. The extension activities could be endless with this one as well. Teachers and/or students could take nature photos and create their own book of poems. Items could be brought into the classroom to “inspire” young ones. Or even going on a nature walk together and finding a way to write about what you see and hear.”—Becky’s Book Reviews
  • “Photography may be the most unappreciated and underrated art form. This book is bound to send adult readers scurrying for their cameras, to run afield and capture nature’s incredible displays. Those readers should take the children they love. Read the book, take some photos and create a scrapbook together. A combo of graphic shapes, excellent paper and ink, photographic images and excellent rhyming poetry, this book should become a cultural icon symbolizing all that kids’ books can be. Buy a dozen for gifts.”—Suite 101.Com
  • “Exquisite photos highlight the beauty of nature in this book. Paired with Jane Yolen’s poems which celebrate 12 shapes, the “art” which is inherent in nature shines through clearly. Readers of all ages will appreciate the beauty of an alligator’s tricorn teeth, the speckled oval of a bird’s egg, and the wave of a palm frond, a feast of images and words.”—Toledo Blade
  • “Stemple’s beautiful double-page photographs capture shapes in nature while Yolen’s poems — full of action verbs, metaphors and adjectives — look at the shape from a different point of view. Yolen includes other nouns, verbs and adjectives — superimposed on the photos — so that readers might write their own poems on the shape. The result is a visual and aesthetic delight (all ages).”—Catholic Online
  • “In this poetry collection Jane Yolen has written twelve image and emotion filled poems which beautifully compliment the photographs taken by her son, Jason Stemple…With tenderness, humor, wit, and an obvious love of nature’s wonders, Jane Yolen takes her young readers on a splendid poetry filled journey into sunlight and shadow, onto beaches and into gentle green places. The pairing of poems and photos could not be better, and on each double page spread the poet also gives her readers some additional shape words. Thus on the oval page, in addition to her poem, readers will find “ovoid” and “ellipse” gently placed around the picture of an egg in a nest.”—Looking Glass Review