“Square, you are a genius.”


I was already a massive fan of Jon Klassen’s hat books when Triangle came out last year. I spied it on the trolley and had to have a look, and that as they say was that – I loved Triangle (I still do). It cracked me up. I made everyone I worked with read it (mostly with me stood next to them anticipating the lines and cracking up all over again). I read it again. For weeks, all anyone got out of me was Triangle.

Then I found out it was going to be a trilogy. Yesssssssss! But, I was going to have to wait a year for the next one. A YEAR! Booooooooo!

Well…a year has passed. I have been getting increasingly excited since about late March. And when I went into work yesterday – there it was! I spied it from the top of the stairs and ran all the way down walked carefully down to get it crying “It’s here!”


I read it there and then . And then again later. And then again. And then… you get the idea. And it did not disappoint. When I showed it to one of my colleagues on my break, his only response was “Look at your face – that is pure joy! Look how happy you are!” Indeed – look:


It was every bit as quirky and funny and straight-faced as Triangle (although, hand on heart I probably still prefer Triangle – my partner and I still regularly adapt the line “How many snakes are out there? Ten? Ten million?” to anything involve large quantities of something, because I’ve sucked him in to the Barnett-Klassen appreciation society too) and fans will not be disappointed.

Circle makes her first appearance in the trilogy, declaring Square a genius for his sculptures. Square, of course, pretends to agree whilst really having no idea what she’s talking about, so when Circle wants a perfect Circle sculpture creating, Square is left in rather a quandary. A wet and despairing quandary (this might be my favourite illustration of them all).  Just like with Triangle’s sneaky trick, there’s a twist in the tale, but that’s all I’ll say.

To those new to the series, let me say this: it’s not for everyone. It is not your typical picture book – it’s not bright and busy, it’s muted and subtle. It is not rhyming, fast paced and filled with noises – the text is short, sparse and simple in a carefully chosen, highly effective way. The humour’s not over the top, loitering near the toilet or nonsensical – it’s dry, incredibly visual and instantly familiar.

Klassen’s illustrations are incredibly expressive – for characters who all have the same eyes, little in the way of body language and no other facial features, it’s remarkable how much feeling they convey.

With such minimal use of colour and text, the popularity of these books with children really is a testament to what a great team this duo make. Our nephews and friends’ children all loved Triangle, with repeated requests for it to be read, and I’m sure when they read Square they’ll love it just as much as I do.

Just a year to wait for Circle now…



4 thoughts on ““Square, you are a genius.”

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