If you had a chance to watch The Beginning of Life, or if you spend any time at all with young kids, you know that children have a tendency to anthropomorphize everything and anything. There’s an adorable scene in The Beginning of Life in which a little girl has a sweet conversation with a plant. This is why books involving inanimate objects possessing human qualities work so well with children. Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s charming picture book, Triangle is no exception. Their clever tale of a prankster triangle will have your little ones smiling, and perhaps even asking questions about how we should treat each other.
Out to Play a Prank
Mac Barnett’s story is simple and direct. At the outset of the book, we meet Triangle. Jon Klassen’s beautiful watercolor illustrations fill each page. It is clear why these two are Caldecott Medal winners. Triangle, who appropriately lives in a triangle-shaped house with a triangle-shaped door, among triangle-shaped hills and mountains, decides to play a trick on his friend, Square. This isn’t just any trick, Barnett tells us, it’s a sneaky trick.
He crosses through an area in which shapes have no names to get to the part of this world where Square lives…and you guessed it…everything is square-shaped.
Scared of Snakes!
We learn, as Triangle makes hissing noises outside of Square’s square-shaped door, that Square is scared of snakes. This is Triangle’s plan, to play on his friend’s fear. Square becomes worried that there might be “ten million” snakes outside his door. Eventually, Triangle can’t keep up the hissing because he’s laughing too hard.
Square begins to chase Triangle back to his triangle-shaped house. He tries to follow Triangle into his house, but gets stuck in the triangle-shaped doorway. And this is where Triangle’s plan takes an unexpected turn.
We All Have Fears…Even Talking Triangles
Square becomes stuck in Triangle’s doorway. At first, Triangle laughs some more at his friend. But then, he realizes that with Square stuck in his doorway, all the light is blocked out Triangle’s house. As it turns out, that’s what Triangle fears…the dark.
It Ends with a Question
Barnett ends his story with a simple question. Square insists it was his plan all along to scare Triangle. The reader is asked, “But do you believe him?” This is a great opportunity to engage your little one about the story. It can lead to other questions, such as “How did Triangle’s trick make his friend feel?” or “What are you afraid of?”. It’s an opportunity to talk about how we treat each other, and how, sometimes, tricking or teasing someone isn’t the best choice.
We like this book because of it’s simple, crisp artwork that will appeal to young eyes. It’s easy for most kids to relate to one or both of the two characters. And finally, that closing question that gets everybody thinking is a wonderful feature that extends the reach of the book past the final page.
Barnett and Klassen’s Triangle can be found at your local book seller, or online. It will become a favorite very quickly.
Author Mac Barnett shares his thoughts on why a good book is a secret door at 2014 Ted Talk.