by Laura Vaccaro Seeger; illus. by the author
Preschool Porter/Roaring Brook 40 pp.
3/12 978-1-59643-397-7 $16.99
Lemons Are Not Red (rev. 1/05) was a concept book about color, so you might think this offering on various shades of a single color would be simpler. But Seeger once again sets up a challenge for herself, adding a rhyming text, die cuts, and perhaps a story for those willing to look carefully for connections. On each spread, two words describe a scene painted in Seeger’s signature thick impasto on canvas: “forest green / sea green / lime green / pea green,” eventually leading to “all green / never green / no green / forever green.” With a color as politically weighted as this one, what could have been a hit-’em-over-the-head message is instead left open-ended, allowing the book to work for very young children (for whom the “never green” red stop sign could be taken at face value) or for an older audience willing to speculate on ecological issues and sustainability. The die cuts add another level of complexity and playfulness. Just when we think we’ve worked out that each cut on a right-hand page shows the next shade of green, Seeger tricks us with “jungle green / khaki green” showing the words themselves through rectangular die cuts, each adjective camouflaged within the next or previous scene, just as the animals on those spreads are camouflaged within their habitats. There is one slight misalignment near the end of the book, but this detail is hard to fault in what is otherwise a triumph of artistic problem-solving. Is this the first in a series? We can only hope.