Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, February 26, 2018

All The Colors In-Between

No matter the amount of planning given to a story time for the youngest of gals and guys, it is always infinitely better than imagined.  Their responses are genuine and straight from the heart using all their senses without reservation.  The spontaneity of these children is a never-ending source of delight.

For them the world, even on a cloudy day, is bright with possibilities.  Black Bird Yellow Sun (Candlewick Press, March 6, 2018) written and illustrated by Steve Light invites us to take an avian day trip.  We perch, glide and walk from one colorful experience to the next.

Basking in the golden glow of a sun, black bird contemplates his next stop.  Sharing the tree branch with him is a tiny orange worm.  An array of leaves, a lighter shade of the worm's color, provides a canopy from the heat of the day.

Plucking ripe fruit from hanging bunches supplies noontime nourishment.  A stroll through green grass gives Black Bird's wings a rest.  It's time for an afternoon snooze.  A fright causes him to take flight.

Large rounded gray rocks signal a pause.  On the next stop a hue envelopes this bird in calm.  His creeping companion finds solace on another bloom.  After the sun sets and night cloaks the world in darkness, a special moon casts a blue light.  Sweet dreams Black Bird and orange worm.

Throughout the day and into the night Steve Light moves this bird and this worm from one vibrant space to another.  At each place readers learn a color and an object; totaling eight colors and eight objects.  Both the primary and secondary colors are included.  The repetition of Black Bird prior to the color and named item gives readers and listeners a cadence which welcomes participation and without a doubt finger snapping, hand clapping and toe tapping.

This sturdy board book when opened reveals to the left, on the back, eight circles of color on white, four above and below these words:

From morning's yellow sun
to evening's blue moon,
Black Bird discovers 
the colors of the day.

The textures as shown on the front of the case cover are sure to have readers ready to reach out and touch the book.  Steve Light uses a technique not seen in his earlier books for these illustrations.

By employing collage and by printing cardboard shapes with ink he creates images ideal for younger readers.  With this simplicity in the color palette and design the little gals and guys are able to focus on the black bird, the worm, the colors and elements in each scene.  Steve Light alternates the side of the double-page pictures on which the bird and worm appear enhancing the pacing and guiding our eyes.

The shapes used for the black bird are graceful, particularly when the bird is flying.  The worm is always in motion, inching along branches, leaves, fruit, blades of grass, the ground, a rock or flower.  Readers will look to the bird's eyes to determine where its attention is directed at a particular place.

One of several favorite illustrations is when Black Bird is flying toward the cover of the orange leaves.  His body with wings outstretched is placed over the word bird on the left.  Large orange leaves, some with veins branching out from a center line, cover the top of the page on the left and nearly every space on the right.  This is a wonderful study in perspective.  Near the top-left of the right side, the worm crawls along the edge of a leaf.

Whether read one-on-one or shared with a group, Black Bird Yellow Sun written and illustrated by Steve Light is a gem to enjoy.  Certainly there will be multiple requests for read it again.  With each repeated reading the listeners' knowledge of the colors, named items, Black Bird and his worm buddy will grow. I believe this title will pair well with Lunch written and illustrated by Denise Fleming.

To discover more about Steve Light and his other work, please visit his website by following the link attached to his name.  At the publishers' websites here and here you can view interior images.  At Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher's blog, Watch. Connect. Read., Steve Light premiered the book trailer.  Besides introducing the book to us, he gives a wonderful account of how he made his art for this book.  In an earlier post Steve Light visits with John Schumacher about his other books and artwork on August 18, 2017.

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