Triangle (Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen)

  • Triangle
  • written by Mac Barnett
  • illustrated by Jon Klassen
  • published by Candlewick (2017)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

In my house, the sign of a good book is when we finish reading it and the first question my kids ask is, “Is there a second one?” They’ve become so used to series and multiple books that all feature the same characters. When they find a story or characters they like, they just want to live in that world and read everything there is.

When we finished Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s new Triangle, my son (5) immediately asked, “Is there a #2? Maybe a book about Square or Circle or something?” This meant the book was a winner.

At the time, I thought Triangle was a one-off, so he was a bit disappointed. But I’ve since learned that it is, indeed, the first of three books from Barnett and Klassen. And the other two will be, indeed, Square and Circle. However, they’re not due out until 2018 and 2019, respectively. Bummer.

Triangle is a deceptively simple story about an anthropomorphized triangle who decides to go on a long journey just to play a sneaky trick on his friend Square. The result is not what he was expecting, even though he pretends the whole thing was part of his master plan.

The stripped-down, relatively “simple” art and the bare-bones story that portrays the dichotomy between Triangle and Square are strongly reminiscent of Roger Hargreaves’s classic Mr. Men books. However, those are a current favorite in my house, so even though the comparison jumped out at me, it might not be as obvious to everyone.

We also found Triangle to be surprisingly compelling and a great catalyst for discussions about friendship and honesty. Don’t be fooled by the low word count or “basic” character design. There’s a lot to chew on here.

Barnett and Klassen are certainly no strangers to picture books. They’ve collaborated several times before, including on the extraordinary Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. And I talked to Mac Barnett last year about how he pushes the boundaries of picture books and children’s literature in subtle (yet revolutionary) ways.

It’ll be hard to wait a year between books, but we’re certainly looking forward to the next book in this series.

(Disclosure: Candlewick provided me with a review copy of this book. All opinions remain my own.)

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