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Books to Keep You in Shape...

There is not a person, an animal or an animal/human in sight in this trilogy of picture books. So what are they about? And why, then, are they picture books?

Let me answer the second question first. These are picture books because they contain pictures with a story is conveyed simply but strongly in the sparse yet bold imagery, realised by the imagination and palette of Jon Klassen.

What are they about if not people, animals or a combination of the two? They are about shapes. Yes, you read that correctly. This trilogy does not have an overarching name but it begins with Triangle. Next comes Square, and finally Circle. Perhaps even more intriguingly, none of the books actually has a title as such – just the picture of the shape that the story is about. Hang on there, I hear you say, I'm getting confused now. So suspend everything you thought you knew about books, picture books in particular, and prepare for three deceptively simple, funny stories.

Meet Triangle. Take a quick tour of his house, then accompany him on a journey, past shapes with no names, to meet Square - and discover the sneaky trick that Triangle has planned. Square decides to get his own back - and so the story reverses. But did either plan the outcome?

Next comes the story of Square and his efforts to be a genius; to be perfect, just like Circle. See him work, feel with him as he tries his very best only to decide that he is no good. What will Circle think? What will you think of his efforts?

Finally, we meet Circle in his own story - with his friends Triangle and Square of course! This time, all three are to be tested during a game of hide-and-seek. Discover how important your friends are in this brilliant conclusion to the trilogy – or is it?

Published one at a time in 2017, 2018 and then 2019, these books are a pure, simple, elegant and deliciously off-the-wall treat. At first glance it would be easy to assume these are non-fiction or concept books, but they are neither: they are the stories of three friends and their sneaky tricks! The idea itself stemmed from sketches Klassen spent many years working on and revisiting. The eyes are really the defining feature of them all; they definitely do make the shapes look very shifty and add greatly to the vividness of the stories. he personalities of each shape are conveyed skillfully, and readers will love to think about how they each act according to their characteristics. In combining the creativity of an author (Mac Barnett) and an illustrator (Jon Klassen) - two people with very quirky imaginations! - Walker Books have given us a wonderful set of books to read, re-read and read some more.

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