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.)

Pink is Not a Color (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pink is Not a Color by Lindsay Ward, an identity-affirming follow-up to This Book is Gray.

Seeing her friends the Primary and Secondary colors setting up for a party, popular Pink offers to help. She’s excited to hear about the festivities for the upcoming “Rainbow Extravaganza,” and wonders why she’s never heard of it before. The answer is, as Orange notes, a bit awkward: Pink is technically not a color of the rainbow. This sends Pink for a loop; she’s never really thought about her place in the color spectrum before, and it’s confusing to realize that she is not a rainbow color. After learning a bit more about tints (her classification) and shades from Brown, she feels better, yet still confused. Does being a tint make her less important than the primary colors? At last, she runs into Gray – an achromatic color and subject of the previous book in the serious – and confesses to having a “midcolor crisis.” Will Pink ever find her place in the world of color?

A creative look at identity. Based on the very real debate as to pink’s classification as a color, which the author-illustrator gives a little background on in the author’s note, Ward manages to weave a fascinating and approachable consideration of what our identities mean to us, and how our self-concept can relate to and be informed by them. Like many who can have their self-image shaken when exploring their identities, Pink struggles with the idea that she may be a “less important” color, or even not a color at all. Remembering how much joy she brings to people helps her remember her worth, and it’s honestly very touching. I especially liked that Ward mixed in some less-expected uses for the color Pink for the character to feel proud of, like dinosaurs, soccer balls, and a microscope; while Pink uses she/her pronouns, it’s good to remember that the actual color has no gender. In addition, there’s a beginner lesson in here on color theory, and one that even many adult readers will find enlightening. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed it. A very cool and creative way to explore an important message, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

10 Hungry Rabbits (Anita Lobel)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the 10th anniversary reprint of 10 Hungry Rabbits by Anita Lobel, a sweet and simple picture book of numbers, colors, and vegetables.

Ten little rabbits are very, very, VERY hungry! But there are no vegetables in the house for Mama Rabbit’s soup pot! Papa Rabbit encourages the ten little bunnies to head out to the garden and see what they can find. Each bunny finds a different veggie or berry, in increasing numbers and of various colors, allowing Mama and Papa to fix them all a delicious dinner.

Deliciously delightful. Sometimes the simplest concepts work the best, and this colorful combination of color, counting, and produce identification is a perfect example. Utilizing soft, folksy artwork and approachable text, Lobel creates an easy-to-read story for young bookworms that covers a trio of early-learning concepts. The oversized close-up illustrations of the vegetables are especially cool, as is the fact that both Mama and Papa Rabbit help to prepare the meal for their children. The length is great for a quick storytime, and JJ (an aspiring green thumb) really enjoyed this one. Overall, a lovely read, 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.)

Geeky Baby’s Guide to Colors (Ruenna Jones)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Geeky Baby’s Guide to Colors, written by Ruenna Jones and illustrated by Josh Lewis, a nerdtastic board book primer.

Red ball. White wolf. Brown coat. Mix up little bookworms’ color education with this very geeky title, featuring some familiar faces and objects from the worlds of sci-fi, fantasy, and general nerdery. Geeky adult readers will smile at subtle references to Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, The Legend of Zelda, and other pop culture favorites, as their little ones learn about eleven colors.

Delightful, if occasionally confusing. Jones and Lewis do their best to incorporate a wealth of both mainstream and more obscure “geeky” properties into a cute and entertaining color primer for very young readers, from the “black car” of Supernatural to the “blue diva” of The Fifth Element. However, to nerdy purists, some of the illustrations may look a little… off. The lack of a legend identifying each reference suggests why: most of the illustrations can only vaguely reference the IP they draw inspiration from due to copyright. This is less noticeable in Star Trek-inspired uniforms or Harry Potter-inspired wands, but makes it a trickier for a black dragon that looks very little like Toothless or a green dinosaur attacking a metropolis (is it Godzilla? If so, why not “green kaiju”?). The final spread is clever, and overall it’s a fun way to learn about colors for nerdy families, but purists will definitely notice the details. Still, it was a fun, quick read, and JJ enjoyed it. Definitely worth a look, especially for the fandom-inclined, and we liked it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Mike Byrne)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Somewhere Over The Rainbow, illus. by Mike Byrne, a colorful board book with a musical twist.

Using popular song titles to introduce the names of colors to little bookworms, each spread begins with a block color and the title that name-drops that particular shade (“PINK Moon”, “BROWN-Eyed Girl”, “BLUE Suede Shoes”, etc). The opposite page shows an illustration dominated by the featured hue, starring some cute animals hanging out with or displaying the literal interpretation of the song title.

Colorful but disappointing. When I heard the concept for this one, I was excited, but with the exception of some very cute art, this mostly feels like a missed opportunity. The minimalist text is very limiting, especially for young (or even older) readers who are not familiar with with songs being named. In fact, since the song titles are not even identified by artist, readers would have to search outside the title to match the song to its band if they didn’t recognize it(with varied success; “Green Light” by Beyoncé? By Lorde? By John Legend?). The art is very sweet, but similarly feels detached from the songs, showing only the literal interpretation of the title with few exceptions, the most notable of which is a French poodle and its owner wearing some vaguely punk accoutrements for “White Wedding” (which, incidentally, was our favorite illustration). So while the idea of using pop songs to teach colors is a great one, this just feels like it missed the mark, in a way that does little to differentiate it from any other color-learning book. Otherwise, the length was fine, and JJ did enjoy the artwork. So while we weren’t blown away by the execution, this one is still Baby Bookworm approved.

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