When a child is given a box of crayons and an eraser, they replace bad things with nicer ones, spreading color everywhere.
“Desert” gives way to “roses” and the color red, “darkness” to “light” and the color yellow, and “hunger” to “wheat” and green. The color pairings go beyond a limited set to include sky blue, violet, silver, and others. Their associations with introduced items tickle the imagination but feel forced at times—why, for instance, is “laughter” purple? Readers looking for comfort in patterning will be disappointed by the inconsistency of types of actions in the text: Is the child effecting the change (“I made roses grow”) or just imagining it (“mothers danced and laughed”)? While the creative and simple poem focuses on improving the quality of the world for everybody, some readers may feel that certain concepts (“winter,” for instance, as well as“crying” and, most problematically, “old age”) are bestowed with a negativity they don’t deserve. Stylized, childlike illustrations accompany the introduced colors, with swirls and concentric circles offering unifying ornamentation, but largely fail to convey the positive message of the book, with most of the depicted characters looking unengaged, tired, or distressed. The book’s high point is an exercise for readers at the end, asking them to imagine what they want to change to make the world a better place.
A book with an engaging message that falls short during implementation. (Picture book. 4-9)