In the wake of Triangle (2017), a further raft of ontological posers in stripped-down geometric garb.
Square, an unreflective sort, regards hauling large cubes of rock from the depths of his secret cave to a hilltop every day as his “work.” He is set to a new task, though, after Circle praises him as a “sculptor” and a “genius,” then commissions a portrait. Cluelessly setting to with a hammer and chisel to carve a “perfect” representation of Circle from a stone block, Square is left at the end of the day in the middle of a ring of rubble. Despairingly, he falls asleep as rain begins to fall. Next morning the despair is still there—so when Circle floats up and sees her reflection in the puddle that’s accumulated overnight her response is unexpected: “It is perfect,” she says. “You are a genius.” Barnett’s closing “But was he really?” leaves readers (those who have the appropriate patience and experience, anyway) to judge for themselves. Square’s downcast eyes as he looks at his own reflection in the puddle heighten the ambiguity. With typically deceptive minimalism Klassen places a few flat, blocky shapes on the white pages to suggest the physical landscape, angling Square’s body and glance to convey the emotional one. Humor is in the details: a bit of twig that catches on harried Square’s head and stays there; the shadow that appears beneath Circle as she floats along through the air.
For all its brevity, chockablock with philosophical topics to ponder and debate. (Picture book. 10-adult)