Circle, by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $15.99, ISBN: 9780763696085
Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Shape Trilogy has been hilarious reading, and the final book in the trilogy, Circle, wraps things up in a sweet, silly, perfect way. The three shape friends – Triangle, Square, and Circle – play a game of hide and seek; Circle only asks that no one hide behind the waterfall. So, naturally, the second Circle closes her eyes to count, Triangle takes off and hides behind the waterfall. Circle heads off to fetch Triangle, and heads into the deep dark area behind the waterfall, where she vents her frustrations at Triangle: “Why do you always break all the rules? Why do you always spoil our fun? Why are you such a bad friend?” When Triangle doesn’t answer, Circle takes a moment, apologizes for her angry words, and Triangle thanks her – but Triangle isn’t standing where Circle expects her to be! So whose eyes do the shapes see, glimmering in the dark? Not waiting to find out, the two dash back to the safety of the outside, where they ponder what could have been with them in the dark. “It might have been a good shape”, says Circle; “We just could not see it”.
Circle is a story where kid see themselves, and parents and caregivers will see their kids. Who among us hasn’t said, “Okay – you can play ANYWHERE in this area, but don’t go there”, knowing full well that the second you finish that sentence, one of your little ones is charging directly for that one forbidden spot? Kids will understand the frustration of a friend who doesn’t listen to them, and the spillover that can lead to. Circle also has an important message, quietly included in the storyline: don’t make snap judgements without more information. Don’t jump to conclusions or make decisions about others based on fear. (That being said, stranger danger is also worth a mention here.)
Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen can do no wrong in my book. The Hat Trilogy and the previous Shape books are instant storytime go-tos for me, and my son knows that, left to my own devices for at-home reading, those are the books that are likely to get pulled off the shelf. I love the way these two creators work together; the sharp, dry humor that speaks volumes; the spare artwork that communicates so much with a mere shift of a pair of eyes, and the enjoyment I see when the kids reading along with me get the jokes. Finish your collection and get Circle on your shelf.