Review of Every Color of Light

Every Color of Light
by Hiroshi Osada; illus. by Ryōji Arai; trans. from Japanese by David Boyd
Preschool, Primary    Enchanted Lion    40 pp.    g
8/20    978-1-59270-291-6    $16.95

Poetic phrases and vibrant mixed-media illustrations capture the intensity of a thunderstorm across a natural landscape. The book begins with a small image of the landscape in one corner. “Look, it’s raining,” reads the text, encouraging a child viewer to begin focusing in on the image closely to spot the streaks of rain. Attention is rewarded when the next picture expands to fill both pages as the rain begins to fall — “Wetter / And wetter / The blues darken / And so do the greens” — again drawing the viewer to notice the changes, with lines across the intense blues and greens showing the driving rain. The wind’s power is shown on the next pages with a much less orderly picture as the lines begin going sideways as well as vertically, and the style becomes more impressionistic and wild. A spare text economically conveys what’s happening: “Cracking / Crashing / Boom / Bah-bah-BOOM!” Light then fills the pages once the storm has passed, and one spread focuses on the dripping raindrops with sparkles and iridescent colors inside. As the day fades, the pages become golden, and the focus begins to shift to the expansive night sky, concluding with another tiny picture in the corner, with the word asleep fading away. It’s rare for a picture book to so vividly command attention without any characters, but the pictures are so stunning that a child who has dwelt in them will likely notice much more the next time they are observing nature, especially during a terrifying, thrilling thunderstorm.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Susan Dove Lempke
Susan Dove Lempke
Susan Dove Lempke is a Horn Book reviewer and director of the Niles Public Library District in Illinois.

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