The Colors of Us

( 9 )

Overview

A positive and affirming look at skin color, from an artist's perspective.

Seven-year-old Lena is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use brown paint for her skin. But when she and her mother take a walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades.

Through the eyes of a little girl who ...

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Overview

A positive and affirming look at skin color, from an artist's perspective.

Seven-year-old Lena is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use brown paint for her skin. But when she and her mother take a walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades.

Through the eyes of a little girl who begins to see her familiar world in a new way, this book celebrates the differences and similarities that connect all people.

Karen Katz has been an illustrator and a graphic designer for many years. Her first book, Over the Moon, tells the story of the adoption of her daughter, Lena, from Guatemala. Lena was also the inspiration for this book, which Ms. Katz says she wrote in affirmation of Lena and her friends, and the diversity that surrounds them. Ms. Katz and her family divide their time between New York City and Woodstock, New York.

Seven-year-old Lena and her mother observe the variations in the color of their friends' skin, viewed in terms of foods and things found in nature.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love."

Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2 Lena's mother is an artist, so she knows whereof she speaks when she insists that there are many different shades of brown. The two take a walk through their neighborhood by way of illustration, and the friends and relatives they meet along the way aptly reinforce Mom's contention. Their skin colors are compared to honey, peanut butter, pizza crust, ginger, peaches, chocolate, and more, conjuring up delicious and beautiful comparisons for every tint. Katz's pencil-and-gouache pictures joyously convey the range of human pigmentation. Positive and useful. Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is "seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up"; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to "mix red, yellow, black, and white paints." They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, "like leaves in fall"; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—"The colors of us!" Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child's open-hearted sensibility and a mother's love. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805071634
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 56,231
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.82 (w) x 9.94 (h) x 0.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Katz has written and illustrated many books for children, including Can You Say Peace, My First Ramadan, Counting Kisses and Where is Baby’s Belly Button. Long inspired by folk art from around the world, she was inspired to write her first book, Over the Moon, when she and her husband adopted their daughter from Guatemala, and she wanted to tell the story of welcoming Lena into their lives. Katz loves to paint and experiment with texture, color, collage and pattern. Besides an author and illustrator, she has been a costume designer, quilt maker, fabric artist and graphic designer. Katz and her family divide their time between New York City and Saugerties, New York.

Biography

From painting and sculpture to quiltmaking and costume design, Karen Katz has been making art in one form or another all her life. But it was not until she and her husband adopted a baby from Guatemala that she considered a career in children's books. Published in 1997, her debut picture book, Over the Moon, told the story of one adoptive family's happy beginnings in a country far away. Since then, Katz has gone on to create many award-winning picture, board, and novelty books that capture the joys of childhood in simple storylines, vibrant colors, and winsome illustrations. Some include count-down elements (Counting Kisses, Ten Tiny Tickles) or interactive features (Where Is Baby's Belly Button?, Peek-A-Baby); still others introduce holiday traditions (My First Kwanzaa, My First Chinese New Year) or reinforce good habits, manners, or behavior (Excuse Me!, No Biting!, I Can Share).

Perhaps the secret to Katz's success (besides the undeniable appeal of her signature round-headed babies!) can be summed up in this quote taken directly from the author/artist's website: "When an idea for a story pops into my head, I ask these questions: Will a child want to read this book? Will parents want to read this book with their children? Will this book make a child laugh? Will this book make a parent and child feel something? Is there something visual here that will hold a child's interest? Will a child see something in a different way after reading this book? If the answer to any of those questions is 'yes,' then I know I'm on the right track."

Good To Know

Katz explains the difference between designing picture books and board books in this way:
Picture books usually have more words in them but they tell more of a narrative story. Board books are usually simpler. They are generally 6 spreads and are about one concept. When I create a board book, I try to make something that is very interactive for the baby, with flaps and pull tabs and lots of surprises. Board books are a perfect size for a baby's hand to hold and touch. Babies can have an experience all by them selves with a good board book and can also have a good lap-time experience with a mommy or daddy or caregiver. Picture books take a little more care since the pages can rip. With a board book, you can throw it in a stroller, chew on the corners and even wipe off mashed peas.

Katz has received numerous awards for her work, including:

  • Smithsonian, People, and Parent Guide magazines Best Books designation, all 1997, all for Over the Moon
  • Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award nomination, Florida Reading Association Award nomination, and Child magazine Best Book designation, all 2000, all for The Colors of Us
  • National Parenting Publications Gold Award, and Child magazine Best Book designation, both 2001, and Bank Street School Books Committee Best Book designation, 2002, all for Counting Kisses
  • Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, 2002, for Counting Kisses and Twelve Hats for Lena.
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      1. Education:
        Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia; Yale Graduate School of Art and Architecture
      2. Website:

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 5
    ( 9 )
    Rating Distribution

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    Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
    • Posted June 29, 2009

      We are so many colors

      This book is a very easy read for most children. In a very non preachy/moralistic tone it talks about all the different colors of us. All the colors that make up the neighborhood. Being described in flavors and seasons makes sure that all colors are seen as equally unique and equally worth celebrating. It is simple and uplifting, especially for children who seem to be worried about what color they are and where they belong. This books says very quietly, you are who you are and that makes you wonderful.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted October 22, 2003

      Wonderful for Teaching Young Children Diversity!

      This book is beautifully illustrated, but even more importantly, it tells the story of a little girl that discovers that we are all very different even if we 'look the same.'

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 7, 2001

      Color of Us

      I read this book to my Kindergarten class and they loved it. It is a really beautiful story. I also enjoyed that the skin colors are compared to foods, such as: honey, cinnamon, peaches, and chocolate. This book is really sweet.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted January 5, 2013

      Definitely recommend this book for all kids!

      The illustrations are awesome and the moral of the story is great.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 23, 2012

      Color of Us

      My grandaughghter read this at the library, in addition to 4K, this book gave her a sense of love for all that are in the world. Good book.
      By the way we had to order it from the warehouse and it was delivered within 2 days, so my grandaughter didn't lose any thoughts of her inerest in wanting to read it.
      Thank you.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted December 18, 2011

      Fabulous kid's book about all races

      This a great book about a girl and her artist mother and the realization that all her friends are all different colors and shades. This is a great book for kids to start realizing that people come in all different shades and that is the way the world really is and it is beautiful thing.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 8, 2010

      Great for discussions with young children

      Katz uses color and creative explanaiotns to explore the unique color of different people. This is a great book for talking about how everyone is special.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 14, 2004

      Fabulous book

      The message is lovely, the rhymes are enchanting, the pictures are fun and--well--what else is there to say? We love this book at my house and frequently give it as gifts.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 1, 2001

      A beautiful book

      Both the words and the illustrations are beautiful in this book. My pre-school class realy enjoys it. (And so do I.)

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    Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews

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