Perfect Square

Michael Hall, Author
Michael Hall, Greenwillow, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-191513-0
Prebound-Sewn - 40 pages - 978-0-606-15412-3
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A paper square ("It had four matching corners and four equal sides") embraces new possibilities in this deceptively simple work. In a series of paired spreads, the paper square is cut or torn or otherwise rendered into many pieces, after which it reforms itself into new and delightful things. Design decisions are strong and simple; text appears in white, while the background colors (which progress through the spectrum) echo the compositions on the facing pages. On Monday, "the square was cut into pieces and poked full of holes. It wasn't perfectly square anymore." After a page turn, what looks like an act of destruction is transformed into a fresh image: "So it made itself into a fountain that babbled and giggled and clapped." Strips from the square, cut on the diagonal, become a many-tiered fountain, while punched dots become water bubbles. Hall's (My Heart Is Like a Zoo) compositions never seem arbitrary or labored; each (a park, bridge, mountain, etc.) delivers a smile as readers see how the new collages use the fragments. A smart lesson in thinking outside the box (or the square). Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
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