Circle

Circle
Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
Walker Books

This is the final book in the Shape trilogy that featured first Triangle and then Square as main character; now it’s the turn of Circle.

One day at Circle’s suggestion, the three friends embark on a game of hide-and-seek. Circle stipulates one over arching rule: “No hiding behind the waterfall” because it’s dark there.

Circle completes her counting, only to learn from Square, who has remained static, that Triangle has gone behind the waterfall.

Off goes Circle to find him and as she goes deeper in, the double spreads gradually darken

until everything is black save Circle’s eyes.

Then out of the darkness another pair of eyes appears belonging, Circle assumes, to Triangle. She starts chastising her ‘friend’ but no answer is forthcoming.

There appears a third set of eyes and it’s these, it transpires, that belong to Triangle.

It turns out that the since Square is outside, the other eyes belong to they know not whom. Circle asks the shape before her once again, “Who are you?” and again receives no answer.

Circle and Triangle rush back in fright, back towards the light and the outside where Square is waiting.

Once safely back in the daylight, Circle ponders upon the identity of the shape; perhaps it wasn’t bad after all. “It might have been a good shape. We just could not see it,” she posits.

An important inherent message from Barnett in our xenophobic times no matter which side on the Atlantic we live on.

His story has an open ending, concluding with a question for readers. It does however suggest that we can perhaps overcome our fears by remaining calm and mindful, rather that letting them overwhelm us.

In his watercolour and pencil, digitally worked style illustrations, Klassen portrays the friends’ emotions with his characteristic minimalist, brilliance.

A book to ponder upon and discuss.

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