The Black Book of Colors

The Black Book of Colors

3.7 4
by Menena Cottin, Rosana Faria
     
 

Living with the use of one's eyes can make imagining blindness difficult, but this innovative title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with

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Overview

Living with the use of one's eyes can make imagining blindness difficult, but this innovative title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their fingers. This extraordinary title gives young readers the ability to experience the world in a new way.

Editorial Reviews

Kristi Jemtegaard
…a graphically sophisticated book…Breathtaking in simplicity, bold in impact.
—The Washington Post
Leonard S. Marcus
…an intellectually challenging, graphically remarkable picture book in which a Venezuelan author and illustrator, Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria, ask us to imagine being blind…Apart from the empathy they encourage for those who lack the gift of sight, what Cottin and Faria have done so well is to remind readers that in life we're all in the dark a good part of the time, and that at such times imagination can serve as a third eye—the eye we need.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Attempting to convey the experience of blindness, this non-picture book by a pair of Venezuelan artists reads triumphantly. White text appears on black pages, with braille above; on the facing page, also black, images suggested in the text are printed in raised black lines-inviting the reader to discover them through touch alone. (Decoding the images this way, not incidentally, is difficult.) "Thomas," the narrator begins, "says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick's feathers." Opposite, delicately drawn plumes float across the page. While the concept is arresting in itself, Thomas's proclamations about color reveal him as a bold, engaging character. Red is "sour"; brown "crunches"; and green "tastes like lemon ice cream." He has given careful thought to all the colors, "but black is the king.... It is as soft as silk when his mother hugs him and her hair falls in his face." It would be a mistake to read the book as a message about how the other senses compensate for blindness; "compensate" doesn't do justice to all that Thomas offers about what he tastes and feels and hears and smells. Ages 5-10. (June)

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Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
How can blind people even imagine colors they cannot see? Cottin and Faria "picture" colors in words. On one side of black double pages words appear in white; on the other side, a raised image appears for readers to feel, like the "unripe strawberries" that red "is sour like" or the fall leaves that brown "crunches under" feet. Above each print, Braille text gives sighted readers a chance to close their eyes and experience a bit of what a blind person might. The poetic imagery of taste, touch, and smell stands beautifully alone, as on the page for black, which is "soft as silk when his mother hugs him and her hair falls in his face." There is gentle daring in this concept. Matching the poetic text, simple scenes seem like swirling arabesques as they emulate the lushness of freely-tossed hair. This book offers blind "readers" a chance to "see" the pictures; its pages also provide a novel experience for the sighted. A Braille alphabet is included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 8

With entirely black pages and a bold white text, this is not your typical color book. Meant to be experienced with the fingers instead of the eyes, this extraordinary book allows sighted readers to experience colors the way blind people do: through the other senses. The text, in both print and Braille, presents colors through touch (yellow is "as soft as a baby chick's feathers"), taste (red "as sweet as watermelon"), smell ("green smells like grass that's just been cut"), and sound (brown "crunches...like fall leaves"). Faría's distinctive illustrations present black shapes embossed on a black background for readers to feel instead of see. One page even describes a rainbow. A guide to the Braille alphabet appears at the end of the book. Fascinating, beautifully designed, and possessing broad child appeal, this book belongs on the shelves of every school or public library committed to promoting disability awareness and accessibility. A feast for the fingers.-Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

Kirkus Reviews
"Thomas likes all the colors because he can hear them and smell them and touch them and taste them"-but he can't see them, and this innovative picture book gives sighted children a sense of what that must be like. Color by color, readers learn yellow ("tastes like mustard"), red ("hurts when he finds it on his scraped knee"), brown ("crunches under his feet like fall leaves") and so on, but all they'll see is black. Each all-black double-page spread is devoted to one color, the left-hand page containing the simple, sensuous text rendered both in a clear, white typeface and in raised Braille letters, and the right illustrating one of the objects described with embossed lines that force readers to encounter them tactilely rather than visually. The shock readers feel will give way to wonder as they lose themselves in sightlessness and imagine the richness of Thomas's world: "Black is the king of all colors. It is as soft as silk when his mother hugs him and her hair falls in his face." Fascinating, challenging and lovely. (Picture book. 5 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780888998736
Publisher:
Groundwood Books
Publication date:
06/28/2008
Pages:
24
Sales rank:
165,896
Product dimensions:
11.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 10 Years

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The Black Book of Colors 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Taught my students how to read Braille for Disabilty Awareness Week! Great book to use to teach children to describe colors using all their senses=)
NLB5 More than 1 year ago
The students were fascinated by illustrations they could feel instead of view. The book lends itself to lively read alouds and discussion. Be prepared to hold the book out or walk around the room, so children can feel the pictures. Discussion can center around visual impairment, or the text can be used to introduce simili. The book inspires many literature response activities. While this book is great for introducing braile to seeing children, it was not designed to accomodate the visually impaired. This is a big problem for an otherwise excellent book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago