Walker Books, 2018
48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Each day, Square goes deep into his secret cave and takes a block from the pile below the ground, pushes it up all the stairs and out of the cave and stacks it on the other squares he has already made into a pile on the top of the hill. Circle, whom Square thinks is perfect, admires his work so much and uses words like “sculptor” and “genius” and demands that Square makes a sculpture of her.
But it is very difficult to make a square into a perfect circle and while he tries very hard, all he ends up with is rubble. As the rain tumbles down and day turns to night, he continues to chip away until he finally falls asleep. Despairing that he will have let his friend Circle down,. Square dreads her visit but then…
We first met Square in the initial book in this series, Triangle, and once again Barnett and Klassen have crafted an intriguing tale with few words and evocative monochromatic pictures. Being able to convey emotions, expressions and exchanges through the use of basic shapes and eyeballs is a gift and the reader is encouraged to look closely at the illustrations to absorb all that is going on in the interactions between Square and Circle, and the internal battle Square ends up having.
And, as with Triangle, the story takes the reader beyond the maths concepts of shape recognition and into the realm of philosophy. What is perfection? Is it achievable? It is OK for things to be less than perfect if we have given it our best shot? Those children in our classes who are afraid to to start something in case it is not perfect on the first attempt or giving up in tears, frustration and even anger might draw comfort from Square’s persistence and perseverance and also understand that “perfect” has a different meaning for everyone. There could also be discussions about whether Circle’s expectations were reasonable – just because we are good at one thing, does that make us good at another?
Lots to ponder as we await the third in the trilogy, no doubt focusing on the perfect Circle.