Review: The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar, illustrated by Alea Marley (9781454931843)

Harpreet loves to express himself through the colors he wears, particularly the colors of his patka. Yellow was for when he felt sunny, pink for celebrating, red for courage, and blue for when he was nervous. When Harpreet moved across the country to a snowy city, he stopped wearing his colors. Instead, day after day, he wore white to match the cold outdoors and to be invisible. His parents tried to get him to wear different colors again, but he refused. Then one day, he discovered one of his classmate’s yellow hat in the snow and returned it to her. He loved the yellow and the smiley face on it. She loved his patka too. Steadily, Harpreet started to wear colors again, this time to celebrate a new friend.

Kelkar beautifully depicts the power of color in a little boy’s life while celebrating his Sikh religion at the same time. She takes the time to show what each color represents, along with the illustrations depicting what bravery, joy and nerves mean to him personally. The story is tightly written, focused on the nerves and loneliness of moving and finding your way. This focus makes the discovery of a new friend all the more powerful.

Marley’s illustrations show the range of colors that Harpreet has for his patka along with their matching outfits. Harpreet’s emotions, both joyous and sad, are clearly depicted in facial expressions and in body language. It is a huge relief when Harpreet’s world starts to be multicolored again.

Diverse and colorful, this picture book is anything but dull. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: One Shoe, Two Shoes by Caryl Hart

One Shoe, Two Shoes by Caryl Hart

One Shoe, Two Shoes by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Edward Underwood (9781547600946)

With a clear nod to Dr. Seuss and his iconic Red Fish, Blue Fish, this picture book celebrates rhymes, colors and footwear. The book begins with the dog having one shoe and the human having one shoe, then the two shoes are worn for a walk. There are different colored shoes, knotted laces, cowboy boots, and much more. Then a little mouse makes an appearance near the shoes. Could it be that the shoe is a house for a mouse? How many mice? The counting begins and eventually ends at ten. The dog investigates the mice for awhile but then heads out on another walk after fetching some shoes.

Hart’s text is simple with a bouncy rhyme that keeps the book merry. The pace is fast and jaunty, with plenty of action words along the way to make the book wonderfully playful. The concepts of colors and counting are nicely woven into the story. The circular feel of the book beginning and ending with shoes and walks makes for a book that feels complete.

The illustrations are done in a modern flat style in pencil, ink and collage done with computer assistance. The images are large enough to use with a group and guessing games could be played along the way, matching the shoes with their names, counting the mice (who tend to hide) and finding colors.

A happy book about counting and colors. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse by Jane Godwin

Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse by Jane Godwin

Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Blanca Gomez (9780525553816)

Told in simple rhymes, this book invites the youngest children to explore its pages and engage with the questions asked inside. The book begins with houses, including a little tree house for the tiny mouse. Colors are explored and then there is counting on the next page combined with more colors. The book takes readers on a bus, into the ocean, on all sorts of transportation, and asks engaging questions of the reader along the way. The book ends by inviting readers to look for the mouse hiding in every illustration.

This picture book’s jaunty rhymes are reminiscent of classic children’s books like Go Dog Go! The way that children are invited to engage with the book is wonderful and will help parents new to sharing books with children understand the sorts of questions that can be asked about the images in any picture book. Gomez’s illustrations are full of pure and bright colors that leap from the page, glowing with red, green, blue, orange and pink. The people on the pages are diverse and the urban setting where most of the book takes place is busy and friendly.

Engaging and fun, this book is best shared with only a few children so their perspectives can be heard. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Dial Books.

Review: You Are Light by Aaron Becker

You Are Light by Aaron Becker

You Are Light by Aaron Becker (9781536201154)

Caldecott Honor winner Becker has created his first board book and what a beauty it is! The book almost glows with light and comes fully alive when raised toward the sun or a lamp where the colored circles shine. As the pages turn, light is celebrated. The way that it warms land, sips the sea, makes the rain, makes crops grow, and lights the moon. Particularly though, the light in each person is celebrated.

This board book is wonderfully simple and exceptionally designed. As pages turn, the primary colors overlap to form secondary colors and a complete rainbow, yet another way that light enters our lives. The poetry is effective and evocative, speaking to the power of light in our world. Still, it is the design and colors that truly make this book something particularly special.

Just right for learning colors and seeing a little one’s connection to the world. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick.

Review: Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (9781626720664)

In her follow-up to Green, Seeger once again explore all aspects of a single color. With blue, there are baby blue blankets, blue berries, ocean waves, blue skies, and deep night blues. Blues can also feel different from one another. Some can be silly, others stormy and still others icy cold. Told through the lens of a boy and his dog, the book explores different seasons and the blues that accompany their days together.

I must say that this book cannot be summarized easily at all. The text is entirely simple, just naming each color of blue and each mood being depicted. It is the illustrations that are awe-inspiring. They use a cut-out mechanism to lead from one blue to the next, one image to the next, connecting each image to the next.

This is done by a master though, the cutout sections to surprising and unique. I found myself running my fingers over the page to find the holes in the page because they are not obvious at all. Then I would flip back and forth, back and forth to see how the images somehow incorporated those cut areas flawlessly. Even when I knew where to look they disappeared into the images. And the images are grand, beautiful and full of depth. They invite readers into this world of blue.

A picture book to marvel at. Appropriate for ages 1-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.

Review: Who Eats Orange? by Dianne White

Who Eats Orange by Dianne White

Who Eats Orange? by Dianne White, illustrated by Robin Page (9781534404083)

Asking which animals eat what colors allows this book to explore both animals and colors at the same time. Starting with the title question, the book looks at bunnies eating carrots, chickens pecking cantaloupe, goats biting oranges, and pigs munching pumpkins. But what about a gorilla? No, gorillas eat green! And the book merrily moves on to that color and then on to other food colors as well. The animals are varied and interesting including turkeys, foxes, quetzals, marmots, reindeer and many more. The book ends asking you about the colors you eat and revealing the rainbow of food that humans enjoy.

White has created an energetic picture book that has a strong structure that young children will find enticing. She has selected the featured animals cleverly, using both familiar animals and exotic animals side-by-side. The book’s structure includes asking about a different animal to move to the new color of food, leading very nicely into the final part of the book as well.

The digital illustrations have a great physicality about them, feeling more like paper collage than digital on the page. Each of the animals has a great light in their eyes, looking back at the reader usually with a playful and inviting glint while not being anthropomorphized at all.

A great book for the youngest set that introduces colors and animals and allows for some guessing games as well. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.

3 New Picture Books Where Imaginations Soar

Blue Rider by Geraldo Valerio

Blue Rider by Geraldo Valerio (9781554989812)

This wordless picture book tells the story of a little girl who discovers a blue book on the ground. She lives in a bustling gray city filled with people moving in all directions. Taking the book home, she reads it and the blue horse on the pages inspires her. Soon the blue horse is flying above the city and then moving to the countryside where the art becomes more geometric and even more colorful. Out of that burst of color, the girl emerges riding the blue horse. Then we are back in her bedroom where her dreams and her room are filled with color.

Valerio tells the story of how art can inspire and create wonder and a space to dream. The illustrations are done in mixed media, combining paintings with paper collage. The edges become more frayed as the art from the book takes over the page. The movement to a more abstract type of illustration is particularly effective, bursting across the page. A great picture book to share with art classes who will be inspired themselves. Appropriate for ages 4-7. (Reviewed from library copy.)

The Stone Bird by Jenny McCartney

The Stone Bird by Jenny McCartney, illustrated by Patrick Benson (9781541514553)

Eliza finds a stone shaped just like an egg on the beach one day. She keeps it, even though her mother says it’s not an egg. She sleeps with it under her pillow and then places it on her nightstand, until one day it transforms into a little gray bird made of stone. Eliza takes the stone bird with her everywhere. Then one morning there is a little stone egg next to the bird when she wakes up. Eliza makes a nest out of a pair of socks because winter has arrived. When spring comes again, there are two stone birds in the nest. Then one summer morning, the birds are gone. Eliza misses them dreadfully until her birthday morning when she sees two gray birds on the roof outside her window.

A story of transformation and belief in magic, this picture book is a gentle tale. Eliza is shown mostly alone or with her family and the focus is on her relationship with the stone egg and stone birds. That narrowed focus serves the story well, allowing it to be about seasons passing and the way that birds would act. The illustrations are soft and show the changing seasons with clarity. They have an intimate feel, particularly when it is Eliza and her rocks. A quiet book that asks you to let your imagination soar with Eliza’s. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from copy provided by Andersen Press.)

Groundwood Logos Spine

They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki (9781419728518)

This rich picture book looks at colors and inspires children to look deeper at what the colors inspire. While the sky is blue, so is water, until you hold it in your hand and it is clear and sparkles like diamonds when tossed in the air. There are hidden bright colors like the gold of an egg yolk and the red of blood in our bodies. Golden waves of the field look like they could be sailed on with a boat. Until the gray clouds come. Seasons bring their own colors. Black is the color of hair and also the crows outside the window who fly off into the colorful sky.

This is one of those books that you can read over and over again, different words and illustrations touching you each time. For a picture book for very young children, it has an unexpected depth, inviting children to see in a new way as they experience their days. The playfulness of color and imagination delight. The illustrations are exceptional, created with acrylic paint and PhotoShop. Rich and filled with color and sweeping lines, they carry the reader away into dreams of seasons, weather and wonder. A great picture book. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

3 Colorful New Picture Books

Every Color Soup by Jorey Hurley

Every Color Soup by Jorey Hurley (9781481469999)

Through simple and colorful images, this picture book celebrates the colors of foods around us. The book walks readers through the ingredients in a pot of “Every Color Soup” made of vegetables and lentils. Lentils provide the blue, eggplants the purple, tomatoes for red, and so on. The result is a concept book that is inviting and offers plenty of space for little listeners to talk about food, colors and cooking. Have a plate of rainbow veggies ready to share after reading this one! Appropropriate for ages 2-4.(Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.)

Festival of Colors by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal

Festival of Colors by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Vashti Harrison (9781481420495)

Two children prepare for the Holi, the Indian festival of colors. They gather specific flowers in the garden to make the powder for Holi. The book names the colors and flowers, creating a lovely quiet moment. The family then heads out together dressed all in white with their bowls and plates of colors. They are joined by friends and neighbors until suddenly, the colors burst and the powder poofs. Everyone shouts “Holi,hai” and then they head home. The final pages of the book tell of the meaning of the festival about fresh starts, friendship and forgiveness. The authors offer a final note about Holi at the end of the book as well. The illustrations are digital and have a cartoon smoothness about them that is modern. The colors are rich and vibrant, just right for this book about Holi and colors. There are few books about Holi in a picture book format, so get this one on your library shelves. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.)

Holi Colors by Rina Singh

Holi Colors by Rina Singh (9781459818491)

This board book is illustrated with photographs awash in color. The images vibrantly show Holi both with close-ups of people’s faces covered in colors and in images where the air itself is filled with color. The text is gently rhyming and invites even the youngest readers into the joy of Holi and a delight in the saturated colors on the page. Joyous and bright, this board book is just right for every library. (Reviewed from library copy.)

What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends

What's Your Favorite Color by Eric Carle and Friends

What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends (9780805096149, Amazon)

Eric Carle and fifteen other well-known illustrators offer their favorite colors and why they love them. Carle’s bright yellow pick on the first pages shows the skill needed to handle some colors well. Others like Brian Collier select colors that reflect their personal lives. The late Anna Dewdney tells of her love of purple as a small child. Philip Stead takes a whimsical look at green and elephants. Yuyi Morales ties her hot pink to the bougainvillea flowers of Mexico. Each is a person story of life and art intertwined into color.

Turning the pages in this collection is a treat. Each page is dedicated to a specific color. Then each is drawn by a different illustrator. The result are a series of lovely surprises, some subtle and gray other vivid and bright. The book ends with Uri Shulevitz’s selection of all colors as his favorites, tying the entire book together nicely. The book finishes with information on each of the illustrators who contributed.

A rich and lovely look at color that will lead readers to discover new illustrators and seek out their work in all colors. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.