This introduction to colors and color mixing is cheerful but antiseptic.
“Where did all the colors go?” Zena wonders. Her house is white, black and extremely pale blue (though her face is beige and pink-cheeked). Zena and her dog step outdoors onto a street of yellows and grays; Zena’s hat turns yellow. The next spread showcases red: The Little Red Art Store sits behind red vehicles, highlighted by white and gray (no yellow here). The following spread introduces secondaries: “ ‘I am yellow and red mixed together,’ roars the lion. / ‘I am ORANGE.’ ” Although the lion’s orange color has slight value variations, only in the small area of his mane do yellow and red noticeably mix, and even there, that red is really already orange. As Zena continues through color scenes (her hat adapting like a chameleon), the color mixing consistently receives short visual shrift. Instead of showing how primaries mix to form secondaries, Wellington lets bland text explain the process (“ ‘I am red and blue mixed together,’ rumbles the dragon”), with only the barest visual hints as to how this occurs. For visually clearer color mixing, see Mike Austin’s zippy Monsters Love Colors (2013); for more heart, see Leo Lionni’s classic Little Blue and Little Yellow (1959).
Chipper and cartoony, but not fertile enough to tempt children to actually try mixing colors themselves. (color definitions, recommended activities) (Picture book. 2-5)