Review Blog

Jun 08 2018

Square by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

cover image

Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406378658
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Themes: Perception, Shapes, Building, Perfection, Genius. The two large eyes which stare out of the cover, a brown square within the square shape of the book, replete with two small brown legs to stand on, will encourage the reader to open the pages.
Within they will find that Square lives secretly, within a cave, and each day he takes a block from his cave and pushes it to the top of a group of blocks that he has assembled on the hill. Circle wanders by and sees his blocks, exclaiming how wonderful a sculptor he is: a genius. Square is nonplussed, unsure of what Circle means. And when Circle leaves, she asks him to make a statue of her, meaning to return tomorrow. Square is distraught, he has no idea of how to make a circle, and is equally unsure of what Circle means, but he takes out a hammer and chisel and begins to sculpt.
This subtle story of perception, of seeing things differently will enthrall younger readers as they watch Square at work, concerned with him that he will not get it right. But then what is right?
Square chisels away through the night and its driving rain, to wake next morning surrounded by a group of stones, filled with water, and Circle is enraptured by something quite different than the readers may expect.
Again, perceptions are turned upside down and the question the book finishes with will evoke much discussion.
The stunning images in the book use basic browns, blacks and white shading to more grey as Square becomes troubled by the work he is doing for Circle, but paring back to more white space as his gloom disappears with the new day.
This is a wonderful story about life's challenges, sure to evoke much discussion amongst readers.
Fran Knight

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