Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Yellow, Black and Braille: Two books for young(ish) readers

Pamela Porter’s backlist landed all-of-a-piece on my TBR with I’ll Be Watching.

Groundwood Books - House of Anansi, 2008

Yellow Moon, Apple Moon is aimed at the earliest readers. It provides a lovely transition-from-board-books option.

[Next on my Pamela Porter list, if you’re curious, arranged in order of readers’ ages: Sky (prose, 8-12) and The Crazy Man (free verse, 9-12).]

Matt James’s illustrations are stylized and bold, brightly coloured and even the trees have eyes.

Young readers will readily relate, even without the prose, and the story is clear without the text.

Older readers will chuckle at the allusions (like the Van-Gogh-ish shading in the “starry night” spread).

They will also marvel at the anti-gravity hairstyles, and hmmmm and murmur to decipher the sheet music in the back.

It includes an arrangement of “At the Gate of Heaven”/ “A la puerta del cielo”, in English and Spanish, of which the mother sings a few lines to put the child to sleep.

Pamela Porter’s language is simple and rhythmic, perfect for reading aloud, for engaging younger readers.

“Here’s my pillow. Here’s my head.
Here’s the book my daddy read.”

And, of course, it’s always a pleasure to find a book (and a reading father, though he does not appear elsewhere in the story) in a book.

Groundwood Books - House of Anansi, 2008

Menena Cottin’s The Black Book of Colors (Illus. Rosana Faria) is aimed at older readers.

Children old enough to understand the concept of braille and sight/blindness will be fascinated (along with adult readers) by the concept of completely black imagery.

On most pages, the black-on-black images are on the right-hand side, their texture raising them slightly, the sheen making them readily visible for the sighted.

Meanwhile, the left hand page is reserved for the printed text (in the same pale shade visible on the cover above) and the Braille text at the top of the page.

The prose presents the different ways in which color might be explained to someone who sees only darkness, wherein colours are not differentiated.

“Red is sour like unripe strawberries and as sweet as watermelon. It hurts when he finds it on his scraped knee.” (The translation from the Spanish was done by Lisa Amado, the translation into Braille by the CNIB.)

The language is poetic and the simple sensory detail is as effective for older readers as for children. (Maybe we older readers don’t scrape our knees as often, but we readers are regularly dealing with paper cuts and other book-related injuries, right?)

When I was a girl, I was fascinated by the Helen Keller story (which I watched on TV and, later, read about) and when I discovered that my favourite author, Jean Little, was blind, I was all-the-more fascinated by the idea of reading Braille. The CNIB translation of The Black Book of Colors is not designed to be read in Braille, but the letters are raised enough to give readers an idea of what it would be like to experience this text through their fingertips.

And, really, that’s what this book is all about, giving its readers the opportunity to temporarily experience the world around them in a different way.

Project Notes: 
Day 15 of 45:  Have you figured out the latest theme, yesterday’s and today’s and tomorrow’s? Come on, it’s an easy one. After that, it’s a whole new set. You choose: A or B. I’m ready for both. Turns out all those spreadsheets have been really handy.

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3 comments to Yellow, Black and Braille: Two books for young(ish) readers

  • Sandra

    Blue, yellow, black? Yup. I feel another list coming on! The Black Book of Colors sounds intriguing. It would be great fun to use along with a Jean Little read in a classroom. Or with an art lesson. Or in a presentation by a teacher-librarian? Or all three! Thank you too for the Pamela Porter review and the colourful illustration by Matt James: Pamela has become a favourite for me since you introduced me to I’ll Be Watching. I can’t wait to check out tomorrow’s titles.

  • Ahhh – colours…trains…what fun!

    I am definitely impressed with the breadth of interest House of Anansi titles!

    • Hee. I am having fun with it. It was kinda heartbreaking to have to set aside some of my pet themes-within-the-theme, just because I could fit all the posts into 45 days (I had about twice that many books here, which somehow seemed possible at one point).

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