They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki | SLJ Review

PreS-Gr 1 –Tamaki’s picture book debut explores color and the seasons in a lyrical, philosophical way that is rooted in a child’s sensibilities.

redstarTAMAKI, Jillian. They Say Blue. illus. by Jillian Tamaki. 40p. Abrams. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419728518.

PreS-Gr 1 –Tamaki’s picture book debut explores color and the seasons in a lyrical, philosophical way that is rooted in a child’s sensibilities. A young girl contemplates things most assume as hard truths. “They say blue is the color of the sky….Which is true today! They say the sea is blue, too.” But then she points out that it looks blue, but when she holds it in her hands “it’s clear as glass.” Then she wonders is a blue whale blue? She hasn’t seen one. In a nonlinear, vignette fashion, seasons change as do feelings of frustration to wonder, capturing a child’s imagination, mindfulness, and inquiry. Each unexpected turn from thought to thought will allow opportunities for rich discussion when using the book with children. Large swathes of acrylic paint on top of inked illustrations bring energy, color, and light to each sensitively rendered moment. Tamaki uses a motif of the young girl with her arms raised throughout, radiant with joy whether she is playing in the ocean, shedding winter clothes, or imagining that she is the tree she watches outside her bedroom window. The book ends with an intimate moment of her mother waking her in the morning, and as her mother braids her hair, they watch crows and wonder together what they are thinking. VERDICT Attuned to a child’s psychology and patterns of ­critical thinking, this visually stunning work is a must-purchase for libraries.–Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2018 issue.

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