Review of Triangle

by Mac Barnett; illus. by Jon Klassen
Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    48 pp.
3/17    978-0-7636-9603-0    $15.99

Triangle leaves his triangle-shaped house via his triangle-shaped door, off to “play a sneaky trick on Square.” He walks to Square’s house and stands outside the square-shaped door, hissing like a snake. Square, who is afraid of snakes, predictably and gratifyingly freaks out. The mischief-maker gives himself away by laughing and gets chased back home by Square. It’s Square who gets the last laugh, sort of, thanks to geometry: you can’t fit a square-shaped object into a triangle-shaped hole of equivalent size, resulting in a visual gag (one that could have been more clear: where’d his top corners go?) and an open ending to the story. Fans of this author-illustrator team, and of each creator individually, will recognize elements such as Klassen’s trademark simple shapes, sumptuous textures, and expressive eyes, not to mention a pesky antihero and a chase scene that goes in one direction, then back; the pranking frenemies of Barnett’s Terrible Two series; and a pair of protagonists doing something simple (say, digging a hole) that results in unexpected narrative complexity and asks readers to think beyond what’s spelled out on the page. “But do you really believe him?” is the last line of the book. The appended dedication and biography page includes visual confirmation that the story’s events were all in good fun. And is that Klassen calling himself square?

From the May/June 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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