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Circle: 04/23/19


Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen is the conclusion to the Shapes trilogy. It continues on the uncomfortable path created in Square by the gendering of Circle.

I get that he/him ends up often being the default in English. There's a movement to rely more on the single they/them and I think these three books would have been better without a gender binary.

But here we are, now with a third book from the point of view of the only female in the series. Circle is playing hide and seek with Triangle and Square. She sets the rules and there is one big important one: don't go into the cave behind the waterfall.

Dude-bro Triangle has no respect for Circle or her rules and immediately goes into the cave. Square did nothing to stop him and offers no help at finding his friend.

So basically it's a cute shape reiteration of typical male micro-aggressions against women. Circle should have just left Triangle and Square alone to sort their own self-imposed problems out. She gave them one rule and they ignored it. She owes them nothing.

Except, women are raised to be caretakers of men. For less pay. For less personal agency. For less respect. For expectations of personal harm. This book plays into all of that socializing of girls and women with zero self awareness.

Two stars

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 22:36:38

Kathe E Douglas

Cool interpretation. I didn't see it that way, so thanks for pointing it out. Enough time has passed since reading the other two that it didn't register as part of a triptych at all. I was all caught up in the feeling of menace, pure emotional response.

Comment #2: Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 20:58:00


The menace would have been more fun without the unnecessary gendering.

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