Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen, Square, Walker Books Australia, 1 May 2018, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781406378658
Square spends his days taking square blocks from his underground cave and putting them in a pile at the top of a hill. When Circle discovers Square’s work, she declares he is an artistic genius and asks him to make a sculpture of herself. Square struggles with the task and despairs, believing he has failed. But the surprise outcome of his efforts is, like this book, beautiful, beguiling and perfect.
This is a brilliant book. It is so simple, yet contains a message that is philosophical, thought-provoking and funny. The ambiguous ending raises questions about art: what is art and what does it mean to be an artist?
The minimalist illustrations set simple watercolour and graphite shapes against a white background. They are perhaps not so interesting for children who prefer to sit and look at pictures, but as part of the story they add humour and charm. The text uses short sentences, word repetition and engaging dialogue. Paired with the larger font size and clear layout of the text, I could imagine older children enjoying reading this book to themselves.
Square is the second book of a planned shape trilogy by the multi-award-winning duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. I look forward to reading the other two books (Triangle and Circle) and highly recommend this one for children 4-9 years old.
Reviewed by Rebecca Blakeney