cover image SQUAREHEAD


Harriet Ziefert, , illus. by Todd McKie. . Houghton/Lorraine, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-08378-7

George has a face like a cardboard box. He prefers rectangular buildings and angular animals. Although his oblong, staring eyes and carrot-stub nose never alter their symmetrical expression, his stern line of a mouth bends downward when a circle comes in sight. "In his square house in his square room, George was stuck in his own square head." This Cartesian attitude changes after George dreams of "a ringed planet... a satellite sphere... and the earth big and round." George hovers in a field of opaque blue, smiling down at an aquamarine curve. In the next spread, he leans out a blocky window toward a row of flowers and an orange sun. " 'Round is awesome,' he said." This revelation comes abruptly. George sees value in difference, and that's that. The paintings reflect the hero's obstinacy in their sturdy arrangements of flat shapes and opaque color, and the writing does not examine what happens next or how circles feel. Yet Ziefert and McKie (First He Made the Sun) adequately summarize and satirize prejudice through their geometric example. In showing how George can be both a "squarehead" and a well-rounded fellow, this volume opens the floor to questions about difference. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)