The Girl Who Heard Colorsby Marie Harris, Vanessa Brantley Newton
This eye-opening picture book introduces readers to their five senses and to synesthesia—a condition in which one sense triggers another. For some people, sounds or tastes have colors. And for others, numbers and letters do. Many famous artists have been synesthetes, including Tori Amos, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, John Mayer, Mozart, and Degas.
Imagine that when you hear a bell you see silver or when a dog barks you see red. That’s what it’s like for Jillian—when she hears sounds she sees colors. At first the kids at school make fun of Jillian. Jillian worries about being different until her music teacher shows her that having synesthesia is an amazing thing. This lively, informative picture book makes synesthesia easy to understand and celebrates each person’s unique way of experiencing the world.
”Harris’s story is addressed both to the small population of children who hear colors and smell words, and to the friends, schoolmates, and teachers who may be puzzled by these experiences. She describes Jillian’s mixture of visual and aural sensations simply. . . . Brantley-Newton provides lively, stylish spreads.” — Publishers Weekly
A little girl with synesthesia engages the world with all five senses, plus. Little Jillian is thoroughly in touch with her senses, relishing the taste of maple syrup on waffles and the smell of wet grass. But what she loves most are the colors that all the sounds she hears make. The bark of a dog is red, and the tinkle of her bicycle bell is silver. She loves school as wholeheartedly as everything else--her teacher's voice is green--but when a lunchbox crashes to the floor and Jillian calls it yellow, all the children begin to laugh at her--a sad, black sound. When Music Day rolls around and all the children play, Jillian is overwhelmed by all the colors she hears. Fortunately the visiting musician is also a synesthete, so he understands exactly what she means and explains it to everybody. While the tidiness of Jillian's resolution strains credulity, the exploration of her unusual perception charms. Brantley-Newton's digitally composed illustrations present a ponytailed, freckle-faced little girl who greets the world with verve. Her teacher has a particularly groovy hairstyle (though it's a little odd to see it repeated on both the musician and one of the little boys in Jillian's class). A brief author's note gives a little bit more information about synesthesia, grounding it in the experiences of children Harris has encountered on school visits. An engaging look at a fascinating difference in perception, for younger readers. (Picture book. 4-7)
Meet the Author
Marie Harris (marieharris.com) is the author of G Is for Granite: A New Hampshire Alphabet and Primary Numbers: A New Hampshire Number Book, as well as four books of poetry. She lives in the woods of Barrington, New Hampshire, where she likes to walk and identify birds and go swimming in the Isinglass River.
Vanessa Brantley-Newton (oohlaladesignstudio.blogspot.com) has illustrated several picture books, including One Love by Bob Marley and Let Freedom Sing (which she also wrote). When Vanessa isn’t illustrating a book, she is crafting and cooking and singing! She also hears color. When she says “hello,” she sees the rainbow, and when children giggle, she sees bright orange and pink! She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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When Jillian hears a sound she sees colors. Jillian has a condition called “synesthesia.” It is a condition where one sense will trigger another. Jillian doesn’t realize that the other kids don’t hear colors too. When she tells her teacher that a lunch box that toppled to the floor with a crash was “yellow,” the other kids hear what she said and start laughing at her. Jillian is confused but soon her music teacher figures out that she has synesthesia (because he does too) and what it means to “see colors.” Soon Jillian learn to appreciate her extra sense! What I thought- I never heard of synesthesia before I saw this book reviewed on another site. I actually think it sounds pretty cool to be able to see colors with sound. The book helped me understand what a kid who has the condition sees. I like that the book points out – “Many famous artists have been synesthetes, including Tori Amos, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, John Mayer, Mozart, and Degas.” There is also a small section in the back of the book that tells about Ms. Harris’ experience with meeting kids with synesthesia. The illustrations by Ms. Brantley-Newton are terrific. I love how she shows the sounds in her illustrations. I think books like this, ones that show all people are different in all kinds of different ways, are very important. *NOTE I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review