CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 20 . . . . January 25, 2013
Tell Me About Colors, Shapes, and Opposites is divided into six different sections where a question is posed and concepts are introduced through the actions and/or interactions of a little girl, boy and cat. Hence, the query, "Will you come to my party?", brings forth the concepts alone and together, dancing in a line or two by two, and parts of a cake. Additionally, the question, "Where are you hiding?", introduces on the left, in the middle, and on the right, as well as outside and inside.
The illustrations are markedly predominant as they attempt to reinforce concepts through the melding of text and art. The result is a sophisticated looking book with a definite European flare. Of note is that Guillerey makes use of colour to highlight concepts as well as minute details that might not otherwise be identified. Therefore, bright colours such as red, mint green, or yellow, interspersed with black white and grey, create an extremely dramatic visual effect. Even with the use of colour, it is easy to see the text which is clear and nicely bolded. Furthermore, the individuals in the illustrations have basic or rudimentary expressions, yet seem to be posed or in motion to emphasize the ideas that Badreddine is trying to convey.
Many of the illustrations are highly detailed and items/places/people within strategically laid out. In one section, there are three plates with candies of different numbers, sizes, shapes, and colours on each separate plate. Each candy looks intentionally placed, reinforcing the impression that the illustrator is meticulous in her work. In another section, the characters are at a market, presenting the reader with a scene that shows vendors of all types set against a background of buildings depicting city life. The intricacy of some pages within Tell Me About Colors, Shapes, and Opposites, while striking and impressive, would be more effectively understood by a five-year-old rather than a two-year-old. Therefore, an adult would need to explain some of the images that are being presented as it wouldn't be easy for the intended age group to identify "on the left", "in the middle" and "on the right" just by looking at the graphic – there is often a lot happening. Those concepts alone would be questionable for a two-year-old to understand. I was also somewhat confused in the section "What are you doing?" as highlighted concepts, such as small, medium, big, and really big, seem to have very little to do with the question that is being asked.
Tell Me About Colors, Shapes, and Opposites is definitely useful for parent and educators largely because it introduces or reinforces important concepts. It is also highly imaginative, beautifully illustrated and lots of fun for everyone.
Harriet Minuk is a librarian at Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.
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