Book Review: Violet

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Violet

Written by Tania Duprey Stehlik

Illustrated by Vanja Vuleta Jovanovic

Published by Second Story Press

32 pages

Age range: KS1+ / 5+

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Summary (from Goodreads):

Violet is happy that her father has come to pick her up after her first day at a new school. But as she races over to meet him, one of the other kids asks, “How come your Dad is blue and you’re not?” Violet has never even thought about this before. Her mother is red, and her father is blue — so why isn’t she red or blue? Why is she purple? Upset and confused, Violet goes to her mother. Using paints, her mother shows her that when you combine red and blue, you get violet! Like many people in the world, Violet is a beautiful mix of colors. But color isn’t really that important. After all, it is what’s inside us that counts.

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All the way to school, Violet’s heart was pounding. She could see all the kids making their way to the front doors. There were red kids, yellows kids, and blue kids…and then there was Violet.

I am always on the lookout for books that promote diversity and those that deal with issues children may experience in a non-confrontational way. This book is beautifully illustrated and has an important message for children (and adults!) about who you are inside being the most important thing about you, not the colour of your skin. We are all more similar than we are different, yet as a species we seem to spend and inordinate amount of time focusing on those differences.

This book deals with a complex issue in a straightforward way without becoming too preachy. I would have liked it if there had been other children in her school who were also mixed – green, orange and purple children would have made a really clear point about the diversity of the human race.

Overall, a beautiful picture books which presents ample opportunity for discussion with children.

‘People come in a whole rainbow of beautiful colors, but Violet, you shouldn’t worry about being like other people. Just be yourself. People should like you for who you are, not what color you are.’

What I liked: The message about diversity being something to be celebrated rather than hidden, the style of the illustrations, the relationship between Violet and her mother and how she explains that people come in all colours of the rainbow.

Even better if: This is a very minor point, but do wish it had the UK spelling (colour rather than color) as many children in the age range I teach get confused when the spellings change despite me explaining that US and UK English have differences. It would also have been nice to see green, orange and other purple children in her school!

How you could use it in your classroom: Brilliant book to share with young children to introduce the idea of cultural diversity being something positive, particularly important when issues of race, religion and immigration seem to be dominating headlines all over the world. I will be sharing this with my class, along with other books promoting diversity and mutual understanding. If you wanted, you could link it in with an Art unit on colour-mixing, talking about how mixing colours allows us to accurately represent all the wonderful colours around us. You could also debate if one colour is more important than any others, perhaps reading ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ too.

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(Thank you to Netgalley and Second Story Press for my free review copy)

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