Through simple blotches of color, author-illustrator Kathryn Otoshi creates a gang of personalities cleverly tied to their hues–quiet Blue, outgoing Orange, bright Green, outgoing Purple and hot-head Red. Don’t be thrown off my the apparent simplicity of her drawings and storyline. This book is a winner, rich in language, metaphors, concepts and life lessons.
Blue is content with himself until Red comes along, announcing, “Red is hot, Blue is not.” Blue flattens into a puddle of color, feeling diminished by this bully. His friends rally around to comfort Blue, but can’t seem to step up to Red and tell her to STOP! Undaunted, Red’s blob gets bigger and bigger, picking on the whole gang as they flatten, feeling “a little blue.” The number “1” comes to their rescue and stands up to Red, refusing to back down, demonstrating the courage to face a bully. His bravery was contagious as each color declared their intent to stand up to Red, and became a tinted number. Each colored number wanted to count against Red, who started to diminish as his bravado was challenged. In a final twist of kindness, the gang called out to Red and invited him to “count” too, coming full circle into a heartwarming tale of inclusion.
This clever book can entertain and teach at many levels and ages. To the young preschooler, the story line reinforces colors and numbers, while to the older child, it launches a discussion of intimidation, resolving problems, and inclusion. Recognizing metaphors, discussing the use of size and shapes to represent concepts (sad, defeated, bossy, etc,) and relating the story to a child’s experience are recognized using this story to start the discussion.