Triangle by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

“One day Triangle walked out of his door and away from his house.

He was going to play a sneaky trick on Square.”

Triangle

Suitable for children aged three years plus, Triangle is a charming new picture book from award-winning duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. This is sneaky trick-based fun without parallel.

The story is about Triangle, who walks to Square’s house in order to play a trick. He does this and Square retaliates by following him home and depending on your point of view, either returning the favour with a trick of his own or getting into a scrape that inadvertently has the effect of a well placed trick.

It’s a gorgeous book to pick up and handle. It has thick board covers, it’s chunky. It’s a shape! It’s even more 3D than a normal book. (Well, it isn’t, but it feels it.)

The narrative is really well paced and reminded me of the Mr Men, my favourite books when I was little. It’s not brightly coloured and nor does it need to be; there are a range of muted colours and brush marks in the palette that are beautiful to look at. Take it outside into the sunlight and you’ll see what I mean. The backgrounds are more than a bit Rothko and we see Triangle making his way past boulder like structures which impact us in different ways depending on their size and shade. They are important enough for the narrator to draw the reader’s attention to their shapes which change as the journey progresses.

Square

What’s really impressive is how much character and personality is transmitted from two shapes with eyes and legs and nothing else. Look here at poor Square, mid-trick and very nervous:

Later in the book we see him fed up, angry, determined and slightly disconcerted and it all works perfectly. These drawings are anything but simple; every emotion gets across its message and works hard with the text to do it in a way that appears effortless. At the same time, kids will see accessible imagery and characters that say “Draw us! Send us on one of your own adventures!”.

Triangle wont be everyone’s cup of tea, but it should be. Does everything a good picture book should do and more.

PS- Upside down, Triangle looks a bit like Norman: