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Colors Count

By on December 28, 2015

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Are you weary of winter? Surprise yourself and sit down with your favorite small person to try any of these unusual storybooks about color.

Whether colors make you feel strongly about something, or perhaps someone you know is synesthetic; can actually hear or taste colors as well as see them, like The Girl Who Heard Colors, from the list below. Try out several of these stories. See if they suit your taste.

Decide which colors you prefer. Enjoy the sight, smell, taste, touch or sound of these delightful tales. Share them with those you love. Warm up your winter with wonderful words.

By Meribeth Shank

My Blue is Happy

blueby Jessica Young, illustrated by Catia Chien

Not everyone shares the same point of view, debut picture book author Young observes in the flap copy. This lively book celebrates variety in how colors are experienced. Sometimes using dialog to express feelings linked to color, the book reads like a peppy, non-rhyming poem. The eager girl in the story doesn’t argue out loud with family, neighbors, and friends who experience color in, perhaps, an expected fashion. Instead, she shares her “but” in active, non-argumentative, yet reflective language: “The boy next door says red is angry, Like a dragon’s burning breath. But my red is as brave as a fire truck, And my superhero cape.” The surprising differences in feelings often associated with specific colors are accented by vigorous acrylic paintings. The lively union of words with pictures makes this charming story appealing to young listeners. Yet, older readers will also feel engaged.

Candlewick Press, $15.99 Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3

The Day the Crayons Quit

dayby Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

This imaginative story is a series of letters written to a boy, Duncan, by the crayons from his box. The individual crayons are feeling exhausted; red is overworked by the holidays. Purple, who is tidy, wants Duncan to color inside the lines. Beige is tired of being limited to coloring wheat. Yellow and orange, which both think they are the color of the sun, are no longer speaking to each other. Only green is happy with his jobs – “crocodiles, trees, dinosaurs, and frogs.” Other colors have also written to Duncan: Gray, white, black, blue (the favorite), pink (hardly ever used) and peach. Each complaint is clearly expressed and cleverly written. Each note uses the appropriate crayon color, and features the highlighted problem. Playful crayon illustrations are paired with the notes. Each is carefully photographed, and placed on double-page spreads. The ending features the boy’s creativity in using all the colors in one bright picture he gives to his teacher.

Philomel, $17.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2

(This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Main Branch, Allapattah, Miami Lakes, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


Oneby Kathryn Otoshi

Vibrant splashes of watercolor blobs on white paper spotlight a story about colors, that becomes a counting book, which turns into a bullying tale. A quiet color, Blue is picked on by Red. “Red is hot. Blue is not.” Other colors comfort Blue, but not when Red is there. In fact, Red gets bigger, and scarier, and meaner every time no one speaks up to stop him. One comes. He’s brave. He’s funny. He’s willing to stand up to Red and say, “No.” The other colors decide to change into number, like One. Yellow becomes two, Green is three, and so on. Blue wants to “count” too. Red feels left out.  When Blue changes to Six, Red tries to tease him again. Instead, Blue says, “Red can be really HOT, but Blue can be super COOL.” The others take a stand too, making Red feel very small. However, they offer Red the chance to join in the counting game. That one person can make a difference, is deftly strengthened by the ending: “Sometimes it just takes One.” A seemingly simple story, with meaningful language, artfully revealed.

Ko Kids Books, $17.95 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1


More fantastic favorites to read together:

Little Green Peas: A Big Book of Colors by Keith Baker. Beach Lane, $17.99. Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 3

The Girl Who Heard Colors by Marie Harris, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Penguin, $16.99. Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten

Black Cat White Cat by Silvia Borando. Candlewick Press, $14.00. Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten

Ike’s Incredible Ink by Brianne Farley. Candlewick Press, $16.99. Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3


Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, teaches classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web:

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