Tag: colors

Review: Black Cat, White Cat by Silvia Borando

Black Cat White Cat by Silvia Borando

Black Cat, White Cat by Silvia Borando (InfoSoup)

Black Cat is entirely black, from his ears to his tail. White Cat is entirely white. Black Cat only goes out during the day when he can see swallows flying, White Cat only goes out at night when the stars are out. Then one day, Black Cat decides to see the night. And that is how Black Cat and White Cat meet. The two decide to explore day and night together. The night has fireflies while the day has bumblebees. The day has daisies, birds and butterflies while the night has snakes, bats and mice. The two cats become best friends, and eventually have kittens of their own. And you will never guess what color they are!

Borando is an Italian author. Here she uses lovely simple language to convey the wonder of both night and day as seen through a fresh set of eyes. The budding friendship of the two cats is captured in a lively way on the page, each of them sharing their world with the other. The illustrations and design of the book is what makes it special. The use of just the two colors on the page, black and white is done with a subtle humor. Borando creates scenarios where the black cat provides the dark background for the white cat to appear against in the day time and then reverses it. These clever little twists are a joy.

Graphically interesting and beautifully designed, this picture book even has a surprise ending to enjoy. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Snap! by Hazel Hutchins

Snap by Hazel Hutchins

Snap! by Hazel Hutchins, illustrated by Dušan Petričić

Released September 22, 2015.

Evan had a new set of crayons that were perfect until he accidentally broke the brown crayon. He tried to fix it by pressing it together and taping it, but nothing worked. Then Evan realized that one broken crayon is actually two crayons! As Evan continued to color, more crayons snapped. When he stepped on one, he found that he could create different things with the crushed color and with others without wrappers. Evan’s only green crayon disappeared under the stairs and then he didn’t have any green at all, until he discovered that yellow and blue combined to make green. Soon Evan was mixing all sorts of colors. Finally he is left with only three colors: red, blue and green and no space to color any more. But Evan has starting thinking in new ways and finds a way to make new discoveries and art.

Hutchins has taken a universal moment in childhood, when the first crayon breaks and made it into a celebration of creativity and thinking in new ways. The discoveries outweigh the loss of a whole crayon, creating new opportunities and new ways to color and draw. The part where he steps on a crayon is so well done, allowing youngsters to see situations like that as a chance for discovery. Throughout the tone is jolly and inviting, just the antidote to perfectionism we need.

Petričić’s art is very appealing. Evan is a boy who is colored the same bright colors as his crayons, allowing him to pop on the page even as it fills with art. At the same time, he is rendered partially as an uncolored person, which makes for a very modern and intriguing look. The scribbles and child art are done well, always filled with experimentation and ideas. 

Combine this with a crayon craft and you will have a great program, just be ready for some of the children to snap your crayons on purpose! Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Annick Press and NetGalley.

Review: Red by Michael Hall


Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

A blue crayon labeled as red is not very good at being red at all. His fire trucks were all wrong. He thought more practice might help, but his strawberries didn’t look anything like Scarlet’s. When he tried to mix with other colors, like Yellow to make orange, it turned very green on him. His parents tried to warm him up with a scarf, but it didn’t work either. Everyone had advice for him, like just trying harder or sharpening himself to a new point. Nothing made any difference. Then he made a new friend who asked him to make an ocean for her boat to sail on. Red protested at first because oceans aren’t red, but then agreed to try. And suddenly he realized that he had been blue all along!

Told in symbolism that children will immediately understand, this book works on a variety of levels.  It can inspire children to be who they really are on the inside and to be true to that and not the labels that society puts on you. Others will read it as a metaphor for being gay or transgendered and I think it works beautifully for that as well.  Perhaps the best praise that can be given this book is that it can mean so many different things to people.

Hall’s artwork is simple and lovely. His various crayons are different heights and have wonderful color names that range from more normal colors to “Cocoa Bean” and “Hazelnut” and “Grape.”  They all have something to say too, helpful and not-so-helpful alike.  But they are Red’s community and children will see in them things that are said to people who are different in some way.

A celebration of inner diversity, this picture book is all about accepting and celebrating our differences.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

Review: Quest by Aaron Becker


Quest by Aaron Becker

This follow-up to the Caldecott Honor winning Journey continues the wordless travels of the two characters from the first book.  The two children head off on a fantasy quest this time after a king comes through a door and hands them a map.  He is dragged off by soldiers but as he goes, he drops his orange crayon, one that is just like their red and purple ones.  The two children go through the door and find themselves in a new world.  They embark on a quest to bring all of the crayons together, venturing into the depths of the sea, onto desert islands, to pyramids and temples.  At each one they gather another crayon color until they reach the pinnacle of the temple where the bad guys almost get them…

Becker has created a wordless book that has the same appeal as the first book.  The pace here is rapid, giving only a few images for each color that is gathered.  That offers the wild pace of an adventure novel or film, so it suits the subject.  The fast ride adds greatly to the appeal here, never bogging down and always revealing new visual wonders to explore. 

Becker’s art shines on the page.  He creates entire worlds that have real depth to them, that take readers on amazing adventures.  There are great details of color on the page, and I love the way that the various creative ideas of the children all remain in place at the end of the book, completely come to life. 

A celebration of art and creativity, this book along with its predecessor will become beloved reads.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Little Green Peas by Keith Baker

little green peas

Little Green Peas: A Big Book of Color by Keith Baker

The peas return for their third book, this time focusing on colors.  Peas play on each page, surrounded by a specific color that also shows up in huge letters across the double page spread.  Told in rhyme, the colors are named and objects that are that color are named too.  Young readers can find those objects on the page.  Turn to the next and you get to see even more little green peas enjoying themselves with that color.  Then on to the next.  This colorful read has a great playfulness to it that will keep the youngest readers giggling as they learn their colors.

Baker knows just when his rhyme and structure have reached their limit and then turns it just slightly to make it fresh again.  His little peas are doing all sorts of things on the page and part of the fun of the book is lingering and just seeing what is happening to each little pea.  The illustrations are big and bold, the colors deep and strong.  Yet the little peas and their detailed big fun make this a book best shared one on one.

A great pick for learning colors, children will enjoy the little peas on each page.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

Two by Tullet

Herve Tullet is one of the most innovative picture book authors around today.  I look forward to his books to see what he will come up with.  This year, we have two new books by him.

help we need a title

Help! We Need a Title! by Herve Tullet

This first book is not quite ready to be read yet.  In fact, the characters inside are still getting ready.  There isn’t really a story, though they are looking for one.  And the characters themselves are rough sketches rather than lovely images.  In fact, the entire inside of the book is a mess.  Perhaps if we found an author?  But even that doesn’t help much, especially when the characters are disappointed in the story he creates for them.  Yet in the end, it is a book, with a story, some funny moments, and it even manages to tell readers how a book is created and what its elements are.

Quite clever, once you get past the rough illustrations and embrace them as part of the concept.  Tullet himself appears in the book, his photographed head and shoulders plunked onto a drawn body.  The entire book feel unfinished, but that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to feel.  This is a clever way to introduce young children to authors, writing, and how stories are crafted.

mix it up

Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet

Released September 16, 2014.

Following his clever Press Here, this book invites readers to touch the pages once again.  Except in this book, readers are mixing colors, mashing things together, combining things, and having a marvelous messy time.  Tullet excels at creating books that are immensely participatory despite having no flaps or pop ups.  It’s all in the readers’ imaginations and that’s such a wonderful thing.

I consider this one of the best picture books about color that I have ever seen.  Thanks to the feel of mixing the paints yourself, readers are left with a deeper understanding of color.  They will get to add white to colors and see what happens, and black as well.  They create secondary colors from primary ones and leave their own hands on the page too.  Clever, interactive and wildly imaginative, this is another winner from Tullet.

Both books are appropriate for ages 3-5 and both will be embraced by readers of all ages.

Review: The Numberlys by William Joyce


The Numberlys by William Joyce, illustrated by Christina Ellis

In a world where there are only numbers, everything is very orderly and neat.  But it’s also very gray, even the food.  Then five friends started to wonder if there was something more than numbers, something different!  So they started inventing and they slowly came up with letters.  And when they reached the final letter Z, things started to change.  Color entered their dreary lives as the letters fell into place.  Once the letters formed words, real changes started and the entire world was flooded with color and yummy foods and possibilities. 

Based on the app, this is a second picture book from the creators of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which also started as an app.  Joyce creates a numeric and order-filled world reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 in the first pages of the book.  The text here is very simple, allowing most of the storytelling to be done by the illustrations.  Joyce keeps a light hand here and uses humor to show how dark the world is.  Who could imagine a world without jellybeans?

It is Ellis’ art that brings this world to life.  Her orderly world has the feel of wooden toy soldiers and the five friends are wonderfully different and unique even before they invent the alphabet.  The gray tones of the early part of the book give way to jellybean colors that jump on the page. 

This celebration of words and books also examines the importance of independent thought and creativity.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.