Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Black Book of Colors

Cottin, Menena and Rosana Faría. 2006. The Black Book Of Colors. Trans. by Elisa Amado (English) and CNIB (Braille). Toronto; Berkeley, CA: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press. ISBN: 9780888998736.

How would you describe colors if you couldn't see? In Cottin and Faría's innovative book The Black Book of Colors wonderfully shows us how. Thomas, an unseen boy, describes the colors through his five senses of sight, taste, smell, touch, and hearing. Each color is beautifully described. To him the color red is "sour like unripe strawberries and sweet as watermelon. It hurts when he finds it on his scraped knee," green "tastes like lemon ice cream and smells like grass that's just been cut," and yellow "taste's like mustard, but is soft as a baby chick's feathers." The best and ingenious feature of this book is the choice of format and color. The book's only color beyond the white text is black. For each double-page spread one page is dedicated to words and the other two the "illustrations." The illustrations are actually glossy embossed images, e.g. strawberries for the color red, feathers for yellow, rain waves of fine lines to describe the flowing black hair of Thomas' mom. The glossy parts of the page catch the light enough for you to see what the images are and entices you (and you will not be able to resist) to put your fingertips all over the page. Along with the white text, the book also includes a Braille translation that allows even visually impaired readers to enjoy the read. At the end of the book a Braille alphabet is provide to further help educate those new to Braille. This is a wonderful book to use in a classroom setting to teach the concept of how people who are visually impaired can read and also a great way to think about how to describe colors and everyday things. It is also a simple yet creative way to start kids to think about things in another perspective. A highly recommended book for public and school libraries.

*After the story is told, encourage the kids to take turns feeling all the pages in the book. Even ask them to close their eyes when they do.
*Have the kids describe what each color is like as Thomas does in the book.

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