CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 32. . . .April 20, 2018
Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen.
Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press (Distributed in Canada by Random House Canada), 2018.
48 pp., hardcover, $21.99.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Ellen Heaney.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Having told the story of Triangle playing tricks on Square in Triangle, Barnett and Klassen give Square his own book. Square’s daily grind consists of moving blocks from his secret cave to a pile on top of a hill. On this occasion, Circle floats by and admires a chunk of rock that is a perfect square, just like the story’s hero.
“Square!” said Circle. “You are a genius! I did not know you were a sculptor!”
“Ah, yes,” said Square. “What is a sculptor?
“A sculptor shapes blocks into art,” said Circle.
“Ah, yes,” said Square. “I see what you mean.”
But he did not really see what she meant.
Circle challenges Square to fashion one of the blocks into a work of art representing her. Square tackles the project and finds it most difficult to make a perfect circle with mallet and chisel. He is, after all, seeking perfection. He works through a rainy night and ends up surrounded by a pile of small stones. Square breaks down in frustration:
“AAAH!” cried Square.
He had carved the whole block away. There was nothing left.
He was surrounded by rubble.
“Whatever is the opposite of perfect, that is what this is.
I must stay up all night and figure this out!”
But instead of trying again, Square falls asleep.
Circle shows up in the morning to see what Square has accomplished and is at first disappointed to see only a pile of stones. Then she looks into the pool created by the rain in the circle of remnants of what was formerly one large rock. She sees something that is truly perfect: her own circular reflection. She names Square a genius.
Square indicates by his perplexed expression in the last spread that, although he is pleased by Circle’s praise, he is not convinced that he has earned the title she has given him.
Klassen has produced the same watercolour and graphite illustrations that appeared in Triangle, with the emphasis on shape and outline. It is fascinating to see how two eyes on a solid geometrical form can convey so much emotion.
Barnett’s simple text for Square is a little more substantial than that of its predecessor. This would be a fun read-aloud as part of a storytime program or primary classroom discussion about creativity.
I think we can probably expect a book called Circle soon.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.
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