When you read the title you immediately realize that this is a book on geometric shapes, you pick it up thinking that it might offer forms of approximations for the young represented in the basic abstract figures of the triangle and the circle. But as you begin reading you discover that Amal Farah is tackling a totally different issue with lots of details, concepts, ideas and values that provide a general view about humanity.
The story begins with the tale of three black lines situated on a white page, and from the beginning Amal Farah links the black and white lines as units of being devoid of any racism, as two units complimenting each other. Then these lines move about asking an existential question? What after our existence as lines?
"I” said one of the lines “am bored of just remaining a line on the page”
The second line said: “We, you and I can be rails to a train”
The third said: “In this case, where do I go? "
And so the lines are transformed into characters that think, wonder, imagine, make mistakes, discuss, and reconsider. Using short phrases and distinct turns in the conversation the search for a shape that contains three lines is transformed into a discussion. The lines are considering to be part of a wall protecting a garden, but then they worry about others who would see them as a wall imprisoning a bird, so they reject this idea. Since, the wall that protects could also threaten to imprison, the matter depends on purpose and function.
The lines connect to each other forming a triangle to make it easy for them to visualize the form they represent which could be a mountain or a pyramid or a circus tent. Yes, cooperation adds value to individuals, participation and cooperation can create multiple opportunities.
The writer continues the story of the three lines that have become a triangle, and adds a new character, a circle which is positioned on the blank page and the triangle thinks it is a ball and contemplates playing with it. The circle, denies it being a ball and claims to be a disc of cheese. The triangle plays with the circle and jokingly says that he can turn into a mouse. The circle cleverly replies that it can become a cat. Both the triangle and the circle realize the danger of that game and so they decide to live in peace, not cats and not mice. They will be friends and all who see them will think that the circle is a bird’s head and the triangle is its beak. The story ends in fantasia with the bird flying out of the page leaving it blank once again.
This book is usually classified as a preschool book, but it actually offers a large number of concepts and ideas, on an initial level it discusses the issue of forms, but it also addresses other issues about different relationships between the individual and his community, and between him and the other., This book drives children through play and fun to think deeply and creatively about details. The triangle which could be the most rigid of forms, could represent the and strength and dignity of a mountain, it could also represent a most joyful and casual place for fun and play like a circus.
As expected in Amal Farah’s writing she has introduced her complex ideas with ease and simplicity and led her reader to enjoy contemplation and to look at common objects from a different perspective. Lines, triangles, circles, cooperation and tolerance are viewed differently. She showed how things that are different from each other can merge and fly without limits through tolerance.
Finally, I see at the end, in the magnificent cover drawn by artist Helmi ElTouni another symbol, perhaps not the last in this interesting book, where El Touny drew a triangle with a boy inside, and circle with a girl inside symbolizing the male and female icons in biology.
A tribute is due to this book, which teaches our children not only shapes but the philosophy of life.
Review by Suha Zaki
A Triangle and a Circle
Author: Amal Farah
REVIEWS OF EGYPTIAN CHILDREN'S & YA BOOKS
Do you want to post a book review for EBBY?
Complete and submit the form here. Thank you!