This year in the northern hemisphere on September 22 summer will come to a close. The daylight hours are already shortening but during those minutes the world around us is bursting with color in every hue imaginable. The blend of shadow and the height of the sun give us breathtaking beauty.
We wake to filtered sunrise rays peeking through trees, bushes and flowers giving them a golden glow. Cloud cover alters every instance. Wind works a special wonder. Summer Color! (Little, Brown And Company, May 15, 2018) written by Diana Murray with illustrations by Zoe Persico takes us on a tour of a summer day shared by siblings and their family.
The hot summer sun lights the sky like a torch
as folks fan themselves on the shady back porch.
With this opening sentence we see the first hue of the day---yellow. It shines on the sunflowers. As parents and cousins join the duo ice cold sweet treats on a stick are shared. Their vibrancy shines with a primary color.
Brother and sister run fast past familiar places until they realize the day has darkened. Clouds swell turning a stormy gray. All the animals in the field hurry toward the safety of the green woods. As the rain falls everything starts to shimmer. Brights are brighter.
The companions traverse farther into the forest, seeking a cool sheet of white water tumbling to a pond. Making their way home past the lake with people seeking shelter beneath blankets of purple and past meadow mice tucked in their cozy abode, they run to their door.
Soaked through and through, they cuddle under the warmth of orange towels noticing the color of the fence and shed in their backyard. As suddenly as it arrived, the disturbance disappears. The leftover droplets cast a silvery sheen. The children run outside looking at the clear blue of the sky only to find an arching surprise.
Listening and reading children alike will find themselves caught in the cadence of the words written by Diana Murray. Twelve vivid hues are spotlighted in rhyming couplets (and other poetic techniques such as alliteration), each focusing on an action; everything and everyone is in motion. Diana Murray's descriptions of place and time entice us to recall similar experiences or to create new adventures in the near future. Here are two couplets.
Splashing and splattering, streak after streak,
the rain soaks the earth and sweeps over the creek,
where frogs start to croak and the water snakes slink,
and wildflowers glisten with petals so pink.
Using an F & G (looking forward to having my own copy of the book), the dust jacket unfolds to display a green hill topped with the children's home, a field of flowers spreads from flap edge to flap edge. The blue summer sky holds places for fluffy white clouds, the warm yellow sun and a cardinal gliding on the breeze in the far left upper corner. On the opening and closing endpapers a fun-filled meadow scene is shown. (In the back these endpapers also display the dedication and publication information.)
A fox calmly watches eleven white mice and nine blue-green frogs frolic on and off the pages. Eight snails slide across the right corner. A variety of flowers and mushrooms grow in clusters. Two of those snails move across a meadow with brown farm fencing on the two-page picture for the title page. In each corner we are given a close-up view of flowers.
Rendered by Zoe Persico using traditional-art-inspired digital brushes and media the illustrations radiate from every page, blissfully conveying the magic of a summer day. Each two-page picture feels as though it's in motion, frozen only for a moment until we can jump in and join the characters. The facial features on the humans are those of contentment and happiness. Even in the animals there is a sense of harmony.
One of my many favorite illustrations is a close-up of the children running from stone to stone across the creek as the rain begins in earnest. They are moving from left to right on the left side. All we can see are their sneakers, legs, a pair of shorts, a skirt and the bottom portion of their shirts. The girl's hands and arms move in motion with her legs. Pink land and water flowers dot the image. A snake glides toward the left side of the page. A brilliant green frog watches from a rock on the right. We can see the rain drops streaking downward.
You'll want to use this title, Summer Color! written by Diana Murray with illustrations by Zoe Persico, for your seasonal story times as a charming introduction to all that can be seen in a single summer day. It can also be used with a unit on weather and for any theme involving the concept of color. Children (and children at heart) will be attracted to the gentle but energetic beat of the words and the spirited illustrations. It would be wonderful to have this title on your professional and personal bookshelves.
To learn more about Diana Murray and Zoe Persico and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites. Both Diana and Zoe are on Twitter. Diana has an account on Pinterest. Zoe has Tumblr pages and an Instagram account. Both of them are interviewed by writer and illustrator Jena Benton about this book on her blog. Enjoy the trailer.