Book Review: Blue


As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:

The more I read this book, the more I liked it. The keyhole cutouts in the delightful thickness of these pages seemed unnecessary, but my daughter enjoyed locating them; the book’s square shape and the large, simple, bold font is perfection. The lush, sumptuous color—bright but not unnaturally so—so beautifully textured, is stunning. Most of these pages, given the panoramic treatment in double-page spreads that bleed into the spine, would make perfect nursery art: the deep, twilight blue butterflies were like something out of a Technicolor fairy tale, the water shooting out of the garden hose captured the summertime magic of childhood, the granular texture of the snow against the smooth, sable brown of the tree was striking, and the brushstrokes depicting the frothy whitecaps looked so real, I almost expected to feel seafoam.

Simply titled, Blue has a very organic feel—a certain spirituality and harmony with nature (including human nature). It is a childlike, coming-of-age tale.

The concept is rather interesting, for how many unexpected ways can we describe blue using the word blue (i.e. besides light, dark, powder, navy, etc.)? It’s almost like a series of paintings turned into a poem. Everything that was described as blue was connected with an emotion, a state of being, or something gifted to us by the Creator; Laura Vaccaro Seeger totally nailed midnight blue.

Though few words, it tells a story. Each two-word set “maybe blue,” “true blue,” etc., I treated as the title of the story that the pictures painted. Blue is open-ended enough where you can add to the story, but not so open-ended that there is no story. I’m not a fan of wordless picture books (and this was close to it), but the way I felt while “reading” this timeless tale of friendship—the boy growing up while his dog grew old—resonated with me. No preaching, no message—just life—distilled into the most poignant parts.

It was sweet that the boy (now a young man who had yet to befriend another dog) met his true love through their love of dogs—her dog actually seems to choose him first, as if it sensed another dog lover, leading (or rather, dragging) her to her destiny.

My daughter liked this one, and I enjoyed reading it to her. Blue is the kind of book I read when I want not just to make a memory but a connection. If there was a complete set on all the colors, I would buy everyone one of these books.

Suggested activity: Numbers, letters, shapes, and colors are some of the earliest building blocks of learning. When I was a child, getting Crayola’s 64-count with the built-in sharpener was something quite magical. Try having your child come up with naming their own colors (they don’t have to be blue; I was always intrigued by names like periwinkle and lavender; if your child is older, you can come up with double adjectives, like mascarpone-white or tiramisu-tan. Someone has to come up with all of those names, after all. For a field trip, go to a paint store and get a handful of paint sample cards (which I’ve used to make Christmas cards: And take time out to visit the author’s website. It’s gorgeous!

Descriptive showing (and telling)

Hannah's rattle and brush

Tomorrow is Hannah’s six-month mark, and we’re celebrating with fresh mashed avocado (I will be making all my own baby food).  Somehow, making her whole day a learning experience by weaving it into the fabric of life seems less stressful than trying to carve out a particular time to read or sing to her (which I will still do when I can work it in).  Even though she doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to me, who knows what she’s absorbing?  I look forward to being more interactive with her.

This whole subject has become a Facebook conversation.  My one friend says, “…You rub her arm, hand, back of a hand and say “the pretty blue cloth is so soft.”  “Mommy is going to make you some dinner.  I am going to chop up some pretty green grapes, mash a yellow banana.”  Explain, use descriptive words.  She is absorbing every little thing around her right now.  Live a narrative life.  And she will learn to be a narrative person.  Lay on the floor with her and tell her how you see her moving her right arm, left leg and how she is laying on her tummy and her neck is so strong.  Touch the parts you are saying…”  Another person on my friend list is saying, “Let her absorb her own world, don’t interrupt it with constant chatter. She has a brain that is unique to her observations. Just be there and love her. kids love the outdoors, toys, bubble baths, having fun.”

As for me, I will just do my best to strike the right balance between the two.  I am used to just being natural (which is why I didn’t last long at Walgreen’s after they started having us go by a script when it came to answering the telephone or checking people out).  I feel like I am my wittiest and shine the most when I am just being myself.  For the sake of my daughter’s development, I am going to step out of my comfort zone a bit.  Whatever my approach, I will NEVER be like the mom in this commercial: