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THE COLOR OF HOME by Mary Hoffman


by Mary Hoffman & illustrated by Karin Littlewood

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-8037-2841-7
Publisher: Putnam

A picture is worth a thousand words and, in this case, helps a young immigrant Somali boy make the transition into his new culture. American school boards could learn much about enlightened mentoring through how the teacher finds resources to welcome Hassan, the boy with no English but plenty of artistic expression. European schools daily deal with great migrations of displaced people from other cultures and this is a classic example of how they cope. Showing how the door is opened to school as in life by way of a simple narrative, Hoffman—who gave the world another victorious child in Amazing Grace (1991)—prepares Hassan for a time when he will accept a new home that at the moment looks a bit gray and drab to him. Through painting in class, he tells his own colorful but tragic story, opening his heart to allow himself to see all the colors surrounding him. Littlewood, a Greenaway nominee for Swallow Journey (2001), carries the metaphor with her colorful and layered watercolors that evoke Hassan’s psychological landscape. Her pictures are loose—one might say unstable—moving at second glance with all the color and light that create a comfort zone for the young boy’s predicament. The subtext of Hassan’s family as persecuted Muslims might give children pause to find a new perspective on today’s headlines. (Picture book. 4-8)