________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 27 . . . . March 16, 2012


Except the Color Grey.

Arlene Alda.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2011.
24 pp., hardcover, $18.99.
ISBN 978-1-77049-284-4.

Subject Headings:
Colors-Juvenile literature.
Senses and sensation-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-Grade 1 / Ages 2-6.

Review by Shannon Ozirny.

** /4



GREY is clouds without the sun.
GREY is dreary dark.
But RED is just the opposite.
t dazzles in the park.
Do I like BLUE? I do, I do!
I ride BLUE to the beach.
BLUE is there while hugging friends;
too many, though, to reach.

Because concept picture books dealing with colour are in no short supply, new books portraying the rainbow of hues in our world need to be exceptional to stand out from the pack. While Arlene Aldas new photographic picture book seems to offer an original concept by focussing on the gloomiest of colours, it does not quite deliver.

internal art

     The rhyming text used throughout the book certainly has glowing moments, but the ending is confusing. In the beginning of the book, Alda writes I like most colors that I see, except the color GREY. GREY is clouds without the sun. GREY is dreary dark. The tables then turn rather unexpectedly on the last pages when the text says So many colors filled my eyes while I was out today. My favorite one? Ive made up my mind. Its home on my bunny. Its GREY!!! While it seems that Alda is trying to show the sweeter, happier side of grey, the sentiment comes out of nowhere. Some more positive examples of grey objects would have helped solidify the books message.

     Many of the photos are gorgeous and capture the beauty of things city-dwelling children will see in their everyday lives overturned bikes, signs for street food and street artists creating chalk portraits. But one picture in particular does not match the upbeat, happy rhythm of the words. The page displaying the colour green features grass which is soft, just like a bed, and a shirtless man lying face down on the grass with bare feet. The man appears to be homeless or passed out, and while vulnerable individuals should certainly not be hidden away in portrayals of the urban landscape, it seems out-of-place and downright odd in the midst of the bouncy text.

     Except the Color Grey could have definite uses in a Kindergarten or Grade 1 classroom, with children taking their own photographs and identifying the beauty that exists in their least favourite colour (unfortunately, Canadian spelling is not used in this book so teachers may have to add in the u during their lessons). But overall, the book does not quite succeed in offering a cohesive, clear presentation of one of the most basic early years concepts.

Recommended with reservations.

Shannon Ozirny is the Head of Youth Services at the West Vancouver Memorial Library where the sky is often grey, but always beautiful.

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

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