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The Black Book of Colorsby Menena Cottin and Rosana Faría
Synopses & Reviews
It is very hard for a sighted person to imagine what it is like to be blind. This groundbreaking, award-winning book endeavors to convey the experience of a person who can only see through his or her sense of touch, taste, smell or hearing.
Raised black line drawings on black paper, which can be deciphered by touch, complement a beautifully written text describing colors through imagery. Braille letters accompany the text so that the sighted reader can begin to imagine what it is like to use Braille to read. A full Braille alphabet at the end of the book can be used to learn more.
The Black Book of Colors has been published around the world and has been universally praised for its unique and innovative approach. A special edition of the book with Braille-punched parchment is available for the blind.
"Attempting to convey the experience of blindness, this non — picture book by a pair of Venezuelan artists reads triumphantly. White text appears on black pages, with braille above; on the facing page, also black, images suggested in the text are printed in raised black lines — inviting the reader to discover them through touch alone. (Decoding the images this way, not incidentally, is difficult.) 'Thomas,' the narrator begins, 'says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick's feathers.' Opposite, delicately drawn plumes float across the page. While the concept is arresting in itself, Thomas's proclamations about color reveal him as a bold, engaging character. Red is 'sour'; brown 'crunches'; and green 'tastes like lemon ice cream.' He has given careful thought to all the colors, 'but black is the king.... It is as soft as silk when his mother hugs him and her hair falls in his face.' It would be a mistake to read the book as a message about how the other senses compensate for blindness; 'compensate' doesn't do justice to all that Thomas offers about what he tastes and feels and hears and smells. Ages 5 — 10. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From Venezuela comes a graphically sophisticated book by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria with the curious title "The Black Book of Colors." Designed for both sighted and visually impaired children, the evocative text translates colors into congruent sensory experiences ("Green tastes like lemon ice cream and smells like grass that's just been cut. ... Yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) baby chick's feathers.") while each embossed facing page invites finger-tip exploration of an individual image. The text appears in Braille across the top of the page and in bold white letters across the bottom, and the entire Braille alphabet is included at the end of the book. Breathtaking in simplicity, bold in impact. Kristi Jemtegaard is the Youth Services Coordinator for Arlington (Va.) Public Library. She teaches children's and adolescent literature and has served on both the Caldecott and Newbery Committees. Reviewed by Kristi Jemtegaard, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"[S]imple, sensuous text...The objects described with embossed lines that force readers to encounter them tactilely rather than visually. The shock readers feel will give way to wonder as they lose themselves in sightlessness and imagine the richness....Fascinating, challenging and lovely." Kirkus Reviews
"Fascinating, beautifully designed, and possessing broad child appeal, this book belongs on the shelves of every school or public library committed to promoting disability awareness and accessibility. A feat for the fingers." School Library Journal
"[A] most intriguing, very black book." Globe and Mail
"[A] very appropriate 'educational resource' in the classroom...[and] a unique and innovative reading experience. Highly Recommended." CM Magazine
Living with the use of one's eyes can make imagining blindness difficult, but this innovative title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their fingers. This extraordinary title gives young readers the ability to experience the world in a new way.
About the Author
Menena Cottin studied design and illustration at the Pratt Institute in New York where she began writing books. Her most recent titles are Equilibrio and La doble historia de un vaso de leche. She lives in Venezuela.
Rosana Faría has illustrated many highly regarded children's books, but illustrating a book made to be touched has been her greatest challenge. She lives in Caracas, Venezuela.
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