Book Review: Colour of People
Colour of People
Illustrated by Mauricio Negro
Published by Little island Books
Publication date: 5th July 2018
Summary (from the publisher):
People come in different colours. But no matter what they look like, people all eat when they’re hungry, shiver when they’re cold, smile when they’re happy.
Originally published in Brazil, this wordless picture book takes a playful look at the idea of race, and shows us that we are all the same – whatever colour we happen to be.
Little Island is committed to publishing books that break down prejudice and remind young readers that all people are equal. Following the success of Declaration of the Rights of Boys and Girls (2017), a picture book about being your true self regardless of gender, Colour of People takes a close look at and through race and colour, revealing a simple truth: difference is only skin deep and we are all the same.
The wordless nature of this beautiful picture book also makes it accessible to readers of any age and of any background, with no barriers of language for non-English speakers.
PRAISE FOR COLOUR OF PEOPLE
Editor’s Choice in the Children’s Books Ireland Reading Guide 2018
‘Extraordinarily simple and complex all at once, silently shouting a basic truth about the human condition: we are all different, we are all the same.’ – Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, award-winning picturebook author/artist
‘A powerful wordless exploration of the paradigms surrounding skin colour, Colour of People gently breaks the barriers of racism and invites readers to question their own human connections.’ – Tarsila Kruse, picturebook artist
‘A stunning book – a book for all mankind’ – Patricia Forde, author of The Wordsmith
‘A thought-provoking and innovative way to introduce children to the concept of diversity.’ – Immigrant Council of Ireland
‘Playful without being didactic, this is one every school library should have’ – Children’s Books Ireland Reading Guide 2018
Find out more or buy a copy on the Little Island website.
First impressions: I was interested in reading this as soon as I saw the cover and heard the title. I think it’s really important to focus on the things that we have in common rather than the differences, unless those differences are being celebrated. This being a wordless picture book also attracted me because I have often noticed that the discussion in the classroom can be deeper when children can come up with their own interpretations of an image, rather than being constrained or guided by what the text says.
This book really takes a few readings (or viewings) to fully appreciate. It is deceptively short and simple, yet repeated examination of the pictures can lead to a deeper understanding of what the author/illustrator is trying to achieve.
Each double-page spread shows two children, one white and one black, in a variety of situations. Their situations and facial expressions are almost entirely identical, but the colour of their skin changes.
It reminded me of this poem, variously attributed to different people:
When I was born, I was black,
When I grew up, I was black,
When I’m sick, I’m black,
When I go out in the sun, I’m black,
When I’m cold, I’m black,
When I die, I’ll be black,
When you’re born, you’re pink,
When you grow up, you’re white,
When you’re sick, you’re green,
When you go out in the sun, you go red,
When you’re cold, you go blue,
When you die, you’ll be purple,
And you have the nerve to call me coloured!
This is the perfect discussion starter for younger children about race, especially as it introduces the topic in a light-hearted way, with a simple and important message at its heart.
What I liked: The simple, playful illustrations, the fact that it is a wordless book so you can make your own interpretations and conclusions, the message at the heart of the book; that we are all more similar than we are different.
Even better if: I think that this book is a fantastic start, but it would be great to follow it up with further study of other stories or poems featuring children from a variety of countries and cultures e.g. John Agard’s powerful poem, Half-Caste.
How you could use it in your classroom: I would pair this with photos of children from around the world (e.g James Mollison’s project, Where Children Sleep) and use it to start a discussion about similarities and differences.
(Thank you to Little Island for my review copy – it will be well-loved in our school library!)
Check out more books promoting multiculturalism here.
Thanks for reading!