Cover image for The world is not a rectangle : a portrait of architect Zaha Hadid
The world is not a rectangle : a portrait of architect Zaha Hadid
The world is not a rectangle : a portrait of architect Zaha Hadid
Personal Author:
Publisher Info:
New York, New York : Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, [2017]
Physical Description:
56 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
A biography of architect Zaha Hadid, who grew up in Baghdad and went on to design buildings all over the world.


Call Number
Material Type
E HADID New or Popular Picture Book

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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.

Author Notes

Jeanette Winter has written and/or illustrated over a dozen children's books, including "Calavera Abecedario" and "The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq," as well as biographies of Diego Rivera, Johann Sebastian Bach and Georgia O'Keeffe among others.

Winter is celebrated for her distinctive painting style, picture design, and usage of brilliant colors. She has received the American Illustrators Guild Award twice.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

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. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly 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 PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Iranian architect Zaha Hadid drew inspiration for her designs from the natural world, which she famously stated is not a rectangle. As a result, her buildings swoop, curve, twist, and flow. Winter opens with an overview of Zaha's childhood and education, paying particular attention to the ruins, deserts, and marshes she visited with her father during her youth, because these are the sites that sparked her passion for design and her unique style. Winter does an excellent job of utilizing double-page spreads to link several of Zaha's famous buildings with the object or vista upon which they were modeled. A simple seashell transforms into a sports stadium; marsh grasses inspire a cluster of kinked apartment towers; the galaxy's whirling stars are reflected in a building's curves and swirls. Winter's illustrations utilize cool pastel tones and seamlessly integrate Zaha's buildings ­and later her fashion and furniture designs with nature, perfectly reflecting the architect's organic design philosophy. Readers will also come away with a firm sense of Zaha's tenacity and determination as she refuses to be held back by her ethnicity, gender, or unconventional ideas. The book closes with a guide to the buildings featured in the story, noteworthy quotes from Zaha, and a short bio. A fantastically crafted picture-book biography of a woman deserving of recognition.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2017 Booklist