________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 21. . . .June 13, 2008


Yellow Blues.

Sean L. Moore.
Vancouver, BC: Raincoast Books, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55192-954-5.

Subject Headings:
Color-Juvenile fiction.
Boots-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Devon Greyson.

* /4



It's raining outside and I still have my pride,

But no boots to complement my blue jeans.

So, I've got the blues, yup, the yellow blues.
(Don't yellow and blue make green?)


The main character in Yellow Blues (Jane, according to the book jacket) is fixated on getting her parents to buy her yellow rain boots. Beginning the book with soggy runners, she attempts various antics to communicate her plea to her mom and dad: a steady stream of yellow artwork, wearing all yellow, arguing her case, and bargaining. All of this is to no avail; her parents begin to come around to the need for new boots, but they insist that "pink is now the new black." After the parental unit finally decides that new boots of Jane's liking might be in order, our heroine is dismayed to find not one pair of yellow boots left in the stores. She fears that her new footwear will show her to be "blue-booted (uncool)" on the first day of school, but when all the kids "turn three shades of green" at the sight of her new Wellingtons, she swells with pride at her newfound trendsetter status, no matter how temporary it may be.

     Yellow Blues is a rapid mishmash of messages: parents are from outer space, boys are gross and girls are prissy, I don't want to wear a dress, blue is the new pink is the new black. Jane's precocious narration is similarly jumpy, bouncing from amusingly colloquial to cliché to offbeat. The lines all rhyme, but content seems to have been sacrificed in order to keep the rhyme tight. Additionally, there is no refrain or clear repeating pattern to the rhyme, which doesn't help the wandering plot problem. There are some great funny ideas in the book—such as Jane's favourite food being waffles and cheese (with syrup). However, many images and scenes seem tossed into the rhyming narrative without sufficient transition or back story.

internal art      The colour theme is neat. Even children who don't understand what is going on in the story can enjoy all the colour play in the story and illustrations. Yellow and blue mix frequently, and emotional connotations of colours (turning green, seeing red, feeling blue) are introduced. The vibrant illustrations are, hands down, the best part of Yellow Blues. Moore's animation background shines in his spunky main character and whimsical bits of action hidden in the pictures.

      The book's intended message seems to be an optimistic one about making the best of what comes your way, but this upbeat theme is cloaked in anxieties (such as "coolness" and which colours are "in") that are more characteristic of an age group too old for the picture book format. The focus on trying to impress peers with material objects gained by manipulating parents is unfortunate.

      Overall, Yellow Blues is an attractive book with some nice Canadian flavour, but one I can't really recommend. The fun illustrations don't outweigh the inconsistent language and story, awkward rhyme, and inappropriate messages for the target age group.

Not recommended.

Devon Greyson is a librarian at the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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