“Circle” is a Great Conclusion to Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Shape Trilogy
Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are one of the best tag teams in Children’s Literature. We first met these anthropomorphic shape characters (specifically the characters Triangle and Square ) in the book Triangle. In that book we quickly got to know their mischievous personalities and fears. I especially liked how the characters were clearly friends, but also liked to mess with each other and play tricks on each other just like real friends often do. Too often in picture books friendship is depicted in a too sanitized manner.
Getting back to this book, we finally get to see where Circle lives as the book opens which is near a waterfall. Before playing hide and seek, Circle warns her shape friends not to go behind the waterfall because it is dark. Triangle takes this as a challenge in a way that is a great call back to the end of the first book in the series.
After Triangle enters the dark cave behind the waterfall, illustrator Jon Klassen gets to shine. All we can see in the darkness of the next few pages is the characters eyes. Anyone who is familiar with Jon Klassen’s hat trilogy knows that Klassen has this amazing ability to convey a variety of emotions from the way he illustrates characters eyes. That ability is on full display here. The eyes on the dark background instantly create a sense of danger and mystery. When I first read this book to my PreK class, I could sense their growing mix of excitement and fear for the characters as Circle and Triangle realize there is another unfamiliar character in the darkness. During this scary time in the darkness there is a touching exchange with a mix of anger, love , and friendship between Circle and Square.
I won’t spoil the ending of the book, but I love that there is an open ended conclusion that asks the reader/audience a question. This led to a variety of responses and interesting discussion in my PreK class.
In short I highly recommend all 3 of the books in this trilogy for children ages 3-7.
You can read an interview with the creators here: