The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid

by Jeanette Winter (Author) Jeanette Winter (Illustrator)

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
A Washington Post Best Children's Book of 2017
Parents' Choice Recommended

Get to know Zaha Hadid in this nonfiction picture book about the famed architect's life and her triumph over adversity from celebrated author-illustrator Jeanette Winter.

Zaha Hadid grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, and dreamed of designing her own cities. After studying architecture in London, she opened her own studio and started designing buildings. But as a Muslim woman, Hadid faced many obstacles. Determined to succeed, she worked hard for many years, and achieved her goals--and now you can see the buildings Hadid has designed all over the world.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-5--Even as a child, Zaha Hadid was fascinated by the landscapes and ruins of her native Iraq, seeing patterns in them she later repeated in her urban designs. Her unusual ideas prompted her to study architecture in London and eventually open Studio 9, an office in which she and her colleagues designed unconventional buildings that epitomized her mantra, "The world is not a rectangle." Despite criticism and setbacks, Hadid's belief in the impossible led to commissions to design a museum, an opera house, a stadium, and even a ski jump, which incorporated their surrounding landscapes into the core of their structures. When she died in 2016, Hadid had the distinction of being the only woman to receive both the Pritzker Prize and the Royal Gold Medal for her inventive sense of design. From its catchy title to the clear depiction of its extraordinary subject, this book will appeal to elementary students, particularly those craving daring role models. The simple text flows as easily as Hadid's ideas, and Winter's painterly acrylic illustrations are its perfect complement, bringing to life a rather stern artist intent on realizing her artistic visions against all odds. Art teachers can use the endpapers' portrayals of Hadid's unusual structures to help students create their own landscape-inspired designs, and mention of her Iraqi heritage could prompt discussions on global artists. VERDICT Ripe with ties to curricula, this is a great choice for art and biography collections.--Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Direct quotations from Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid pepper this spare but engrossing biography from Winter (Nanuk the Ice Bear). After moving quickly through Hadid's childhood, highlighting her fascination with local "rivers and marshes and dunes and ruins," Winter devotes several pages to her remarkable designs: "tall buildings dancing like grass" (the Signature Towers of Dubai), "an opera house like the pebbles in the water" (China's Guangzhou Opera House), and others. The undulating shapes and milky colors of Winter's images emphasize the connections between the structures and their natural inspirations, and Hadid's commitment to her designs features prominently: "Hadid means iron in Arabic, and Zaha is strong as iron," writes Winter as Hadid fixes readers with a steely gaze. It's a stirring reminder of how far nontraditional thinking and dedication to one's ideals can take a person. Ages 5-10. (Aug.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Jeanette Winter

JEANETTE WINTER has illustrated many books for children, including Day of the Dead by Tony Johnston and her own Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book, My Name Is Georgia, and Josefina. She lives in New York Cit

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
August 20, 2017
Age Range
5 - 10 years

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