Wednesday, March 11, 2009


THE BLACK BOOK OF COLORS by Menena Cottin, illustrated by Rosana Faria, translated by Elisa Amado (Groundwood)
How would you experience color if sight was not one of your senses? Imagine illustrating a picture book for young readers who can't see with their eyes? These were the challenges creatively undertaken by this author/illustrator duo, and the outcome is a truly unique addition to the shelves. Colors described by the narrator's friend Thomas makes gorgeous use of figurative language (Blue is the color of the sky when kites are flying and the sun is beating hot on his head, while green tastes like lemon ice), while the embossed etchings and Braille lettering that accompany the text allow your sighted readers to begin to imagine the experience from another point of view, and, as one reviewer noted, shifts the focus from thinking of blindness as a disability or deficit to simply considering it a difference. Teachers, take note: this experiential book is not one you can hold up in front of a large group to all "see the pictures," though it can be shared in other ways, and the Braille lettering in the trade edition is a sampling geared toward sighted people; a special edition with Braille punched on parchment (the dots are higher and easier to read) is available for the blind through the publisher. First released in Mexico by the Venezuelan team, this wholly original undertaking is universal, and helps book lovers see the world---and read it---in a whole new way. (5 and up)

Also of interest:
Another one-of-a-kind concept book import, this time from England!
SHAPE by David Goodman and Zoe Miller (Tate Publishing) For the child who has advanced past circle, square and triangle, we have this ebullient offering for those adventurous tykes who can take on quadrant, cone, cylinder, symmetry and line. Eye-popping photos of shapes and children and objects in eclectic arrangements and settings are bright and visually exciting, reminiscent of the almost trippy old-school style of early Sesame Street. This book takes chances, from the glow-in-the-dark stars to the surreptitiously integrated activities (mobiles, tangrams), resulting in a "wow" concept book that warrants multiple reads. In the end, this book about shapes is as much for the future artist as it is for the future mathematician. (3 and up)

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5 comments: said...

"The black book of colours", i so great, and one of my favourite books found last year!
I have it in French, and I made a comment in my blog some time ago.


Kim Baise said...

I LOVE the Black Book of Colors too. What a great concept!

The Brunette Librarian said...

Esme!! Howdy! :)

I saw you talk this last October at MLA in St. Louis.

I was wondering what the music was called that you played when you read the book "Charlie Parker Played Be-Bop". (I think that was the title!)

This summer we're doing programs here at the library and we're going to "Express Ourselves" through story and music and I thought it would be fun!

You gave a great program! On the way home we talked about how wonderful it was and how creative you were!

Thanks! (rachie2004 AT yahoo DOT com)

Esme Raji Codell said...

Hi, Rachie G!

Thanks for the very kind words! the song was "Quasimodo" by Charlie Parker. Hope you and the kids have fun expressing yourselves!!!

mbdillane said...

Thanks for the find with The Black Book of Colours. What an amazing idea, especially the incorporation of Braille. I think this would be a great exploratory book for any child and is certainly not limited to those children who are visually impaired. Thanks again!


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