Becoming Blue (Ellen Tarlow)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Becoming Blue, written by Ellen Tarlow and illustrated by Julien Chung, a colorful tale of self-discovery and -actualization.

Timid, square Blue is simply in awe of his pal Red, a circular dynamo who exemplifies all that is brave and bold. While Blue is too shy to tell jokes or direct traffic, Red is out there having big emotions, spouting crowd-pleasing wisecracks, and fighting fires (or sometimes being a fire). Blue tries his best to emulate Red, but he’s just not as bold and vibrant as she is. Then one Valentine’s Day, Red – who is known for her fiery temper – snaps at Blue: “Stop copying me! You are Blue! Go be Blue!” Having grown so used to following Red’s lead, Blue doesn’t even know where to start to be himself. He feels frustrated and rejected, and begins to cry… then suddenly, he begins to realize that there are lots of things that only Blue can do.

Simple and sweet. It’s a pretty common issue for young readers to compare their own talents and abilities to those of their peers, and Tarlow does a good job of exploring this concern through the story of Red and Blue. It’s not a completely novel concept, and the plot and outcome are fairly predictable, but combined with Chung’s appealing and expressive illustrations, it still makes for a fun ride with a great message. The best part is Red and Blue’s discovery of how their individual talents can combine to facilitate an entirely new way to play, which dovetails the visuals and theme perfectly for the finale. There’s also a great depiction of expressing emotion as a positive ability, something made all the more impactful by Blue’s male pronouns. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed the earnest tone and empathetic Blue. Overall, a great addition to the subgenre of self-actualization, and we recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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