Title: The Shape Trilogy
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Walker Books
This is a fiction picture book trilogy like you’ve never seen before! Written in a truly unique and quirky style, these three books are packed full of wry humour, both in words and illustrations. Jon Klassen has cleverly designed every page so it is full of shapes. As a mathematician, it fills my heart whenever I discover a book that introduces children to maths in a fun, playful way. But while this series introduces children to shapes, the STEM theme does not overpower the stories. We first meet Triangle, who is planning to play a sneaky trick on Square. We next see Square being commissioned by Circle to create the perfect sculpture. And finally, Circle has to rescue Triangle when a game of hide-and-seek goes awry.
The books have been written as self-contained stories, but they do link together, and would be best enjoyed when read in order: Triangle, Square, Circle. And so, with no more ado, here are my reviews of all three books…
Triangle lives in a triangle house, with a triangle door. Triangle sets off, past the small triangles, the medium triangles and the big triangles, to go and play a sneaky trick on his friend, Square. But Square is not impressed. In fact, Square might play a sneaky trick of his own…
It is impossible not to admire the genius simplicity (and complexity) of Jon’s use of shape and colour in this book. My toddler was just beginning to learn her shapes when we first read this book and we spent hours (and hours and hours) excitedly pointing out all the triangles and squares.
Hands down, though, her favourite spread was when Triangle walks past the “shapes with NO NAMES”.
This is such an original picture book and one which I love. I wish you could experience what it is like to read this book in our house – it is a full family event, acting out each scene, running past the squares, the shapes with no names and the triangles. This clip I put on twitter doesn’t do it justice!
Publication date: 1 March 2018
Square’s job is to push square blocks out of his cave. One day, Circle floats by and tells Square he is a genius and a sculptor. Circle asks Square to sculpt her from a block. But Square is not a genius or a sculptor. Can Square create something as perfect as Circle?
In Triangle, we saw Square’s cave from the outside, but now we get to delve inside and really get a fuller sense of Square as a character.
I loved the introduction of Circle and this spread where she explains to Square what a sculptor is.
But my favourite spread of this book, is when Square has completely destroyed the block. Square is trying so hard for Circle, but ends up creating “whatever is the opposite of perfect.” Mac’s humour is once again made to shine by Jon’s illustration (which also sets up the fab twist ending of this book).
This is a great sequel to Triangle, which interestingly doesn’t feature Triangle at all. This is very much a book about Square and his personality really shines through. I loved the ending and it left me eagerly awaiting Circle’s story.
Publication date: 7 March 2019
Circle has invited Triangle and Square over to play a game of hide-and-seek. There’s just one rule: don’t hide behind the waterfall because it’s very dark. But cheeky Triangle has a point to prove, that he is NOT afraid of the dark, so you can guess where he chooses to hide. Circle has to go in after him. Will she find him? And what other shapes might be lurking in the dark?
I love the interaction between all three shapes and how their personalities add to the humour.
By the time you are reading book three, you will have been immersed into the way Jon has illustrated this series. But in this book, Jon goes one step further, with several of the pages taking place in pitch black, with nothing but eyes visible.
I loved that all three shapes featured in this book. The way Mac and Jon are able to tell such an engaging story when so much of it takes place in the same dark space, is astounding. My only wish is that they decide to write a fourth about the other shapes with NO NAMES! Fingers crossed! x
Publication date: 7 March 2020
I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of Circle. This spotlight feature contains my honest opinion on the trilogy.