Circle is another whimsical offering from the team which brought us Extra Yarn and The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse, among others.
The main character, Circle, initiates a game of hide-and-seek with Triangle, who had his own book (see Triangle) and Square (see Square). The search is to take place around Circle’s waterfall, but there is a warning to the players.
“There is one more rule,” said Circle. “No hiding behind the waterfall.”
“Square said, “OK.” Triangle said, “Why not?”
“Because,” said Circle. “It is dark back there.”
Square said, “OK.” Triangle said, “I am not afraid of the dark!”
It is not hard to guess who flaunts Circle’s interdiction and who gets lost in the black space that he finds deep behind the waterfall. Circle bravely goes in search of her friend and penetrates the dark cave, going further and further into the gloom until all we see is one pair – or is it two or three pairs? - of white eyes shining while Circle’s voice calls out with increasing exasperation. When the two finally meet up, Circle says:
“You are a good friend. You just made us worried.
We love you, Triangle.”
“Thanks!” said Triangle from behind her. Circle turned around and said,
“Triangle?” “Yes!” said Triangle. “I am sure glad to see you and Square!”
Circle said, “Square is outside. This is not Square. I thought it was you.”
To whom, then, do that third pair of eyes staring in the dark belong? Circle and Triangle would rather not find out, and they make a hasty retreat back into daylight where Square awaits. Safely back on familiar ground, Circle starts to feel calmer.
Circle looked back at the waterfall falling.
“You know,” she said, “that shape in the dark might not have been bad.
It might have been a good shape. We just could not see it.”
The digitally-produced, nearly monochromatic illustrations have the rich feel of charcoal drawings, with the three simple geometric shapes of the central characters made more prominent by their oversized staring eyes. As the game moves behind the waterfall, pages become darker and darker until the effect of nothing but wide eyes suspended in midair on a black page is indeed a creepy one.
A chunky board cover is a little deceptive as the content of the book is printed on heavy paper stock with rounded corners.
Circle is not quite as successful as the two earlier adventures of the Shapes, but the book would be a pleasant addition to preschool or public library collections. I hope the saga of the Shapes is now complete: we probably do not need to read about Rhombus in the future.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, British Columbia.