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White Is for Blueberry (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) Hardcover – March 29, 2005
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2–If Georgia O'Keeffe had made a book for young children, it might have looked like this one. Close-ups of natural phenomenon in a vibrant palette combine with strategic pacing to undo the viewer's preconceptions about color. This creative duo has selected 10 images with which to stage their drama. The minimalist text appears in black ink, except for the words that name the colors; they are enlarged and color-coordinated. Thus, the opening page depicts a black crow, but the text reads, "Pink is for crow…." The page turn reveals a spread showing a nest of newborn birds and the conclusion: "…when it has just hatched from its egg." In like manner, author and artist pair purple and snow, blue and firelight, yellow and pine trees. The disconnect between the written hue and the initial object, combined with the elliptical construction, allows older children to guess and predict the outcomes and younger ones to be surprised. The bold, uncluttered scenes, rendered in acrylics, have a sweetness and strength that is quite pleasing to the eye. Easy to read and fun to share, this paean to the wonder of cycles and the rewards of close observation is the perfect prelude to a thoughtful excursion. Fans of Shannon and Dronzek would also enjoy titles such as Tana Hoban's Look! Look! Look! (HarperCollins, 1988; o.p.) and N. N. Charles's What Am I? Looking Through Shapes at Apples and Grapes (Scholastic, 1994).–Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PreS-K. Shannon challenges color associations that become ingrained in early life by using unusual combinations of words and images: "Pink is for crow," reads the text, which is illustrated with a painting of a glossy black bird. An explanation comes on the following spread: "When it has just hatched from its egg," accompanied by a picture of featherless pink nestlings. Subsequent spreads follow a similar pattern of contradiction and explanation: red poppies, for example, are black "when we take the time to look inside." The text is sometimes awkward: purple represents snow "when the snow is the shadow of us." But the rich hues and solid, uncomplicated shapes in the thickly brushed acrylic paintings extend the sense of visual delight and the mystery in the words. The format invites children to look with the eyes of an artist or a scientist, question preconceptions, and closely examine the actual world, where blueberries are, indeed, sometimes white. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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I recently ordered two & unfortunately both came with crushed corners. Since they are children's books & will be "well loved" I still gave them as gifts, but I would have like them to look nicer to start with.
However, "White is for Blueberry" is a page turner. You'll want to see what colorful tricks Shannon and Dronzek are trying to put over on you. It turns out that pink COULD be for crow, because that's its color "when it has just hatched from its egg. Dronzek's big, cinematic close-ups of the hungry (yawning?) baby birds makes for a compelling argument. By this time, your toddler has become more curious about these seemingly false statements, and will want to see just how they can be true. "Green is for turnip..." Oh, really? But a big purplish turnip (framed in green) is right in front of my eyes! Aha...it IS green, "when we see it in the farmer's field." A family of bunnies, soft and smooth, munches away at the turnip's green leaves, the purple turnip barely visible beneath them.
Each statement provokes the reader to disagree, or perhaps to try to figure out what Shannon will come up with next. While most won't get that "PURPLE is for snow...when the snow is the shadow of us" (and yes, that IS a poorly written line, the only one in the book), some might remember that fire CAN be blue...when it's "the fire at the tip of a [birthday] candlewick." ANd blueberries? A blueberry is white, "when the berry is still too young to pick. (Hence the bear on the cover, we see it walking through a blueberry (whiteberry?) smiling as it contemplates the goodies that await.
Shannon neatly sums up the whole question of perspective and point of view, something that the egocentric child may just be exploring: "It all depends on when we look...how near or far... outside...or in." Your little one may very well be inspired (with your help, perhaps) to think of his or her own color surprises. I wish the book had concluded with an invitation to think of your own color paradoxes, or perhaps a quiz with answers in the back. After Shannon's "It all depends..." conclusion, all we get is a small picture of a crow with a half-eaten red and white apple in its beak. While this corresponds with the previous apple pictures that illustrated the idea to look both "outside" or "in," it's a somewhat pedestrian and anticlimactic way to finish a very creative, fresh book. It's a joy to look at, and it's a subtle reminder that there's more than one way to look at things and people.