Circle, Square, and Triangle play a game together with surprising results.
The three shapes are friends. Illustrator Klassen’s watercolor, graphite, and digitally created illustrations are evocative in their muted palette and spare presentation, the shapes drawn simply, with white, rounded-off oblongs for eyes whose black pupils move back and forth to show action and emotion. One day, Circle suggests a game of hide-and-seek and tells her friends not to hide behind the waterfall, because it is dark. When Circle finishes counting, Square has not moved; he tells Circle, “Triangle went behind the waterfall.” Circle goes to find him, and as she delves deeper, the double-page spreads darken to solid black until only Circle’s white oblong eyes are shown. She sees one set of eyes and begins to upbraid Triangle—and then a third set. Turns out that is the set that belongs to Triangle, and when the two realize they don’t know the other, they rush away in a fright. Safely back in the open, Circle wonders what shape was in the dark and, reflecting on her fear, realizes that the shape wasn’t necessarily “bad” just because she couldn’t see it. While the implied message of the story is a vital one in this xenophobic age and its subtle delivery and imagery encourage further exploration, the story’s final page veers off, asking readers to picture a shape rather than delivering a conclusion.
Worthy and allusive but with a possibly frustratingly oblique ending. (Picture book. 4-8)