The pairing of Barnett’s deceptively simple, tongue-in-cheek text with Klassen’s iconic splattered and stenciled watercolor and digital illustrations in earth tones makes for a unique approach to exploring shapes.
Triangle, a black shape with stick legs and large eyes, inhabits a triangular house. Tired of triangular living, he leaves his domain and sets out to play a “sneaky trick” on Square. Walking past a forest of different-sized triangles and shapes resembling huge boulders, he comes to the land of the squares. When he arrives at Square’s house, he hisses at Square’s door like a snake, sending the four-sided shape into conniptions until his laughter gives him away. Mad as heck at the trick, Square chases Triangle back through the forest of shapes to Triangle’s house. Alas, his shape prevents him from entering the triangular doorway. Inadvertently, Square discovers Triangle’s fear of the dark when he blocks the light from the doorway, causing Triangle to cry out with terror. Square claims this is what he intended all along. “But do you really believe him?” The book is limited as shape instruction, as only two easy shapes are depicted, but that’s not really the point. Klassen’s minimalist visuals make for beautiful, surreal landscapes as the shapes go back and forth; Barnett’s even-more-minimalist narrative leaves gaps of many shapes and sizes for readers to ponder.
Children will be intrigued by the fairy-tale quality of this narrative and may enjoy debating the motivations of its peculiar characters. (Picture book. 2-4)