FICTION

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh

Sterling. Sept. 2019. 32p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781454931843.
COPY ISBN
K-Gr 2–Harpreet cherishes his colorful patkas, a style of Sikh turban often worn by young boys, and he carefully selects the color to telegraph his mood each day: “He wore yellow when he felt sunny, spreading cheer everywhere he went. He wore pink when he felt like celebrating, bopping along to bhangra beats.” When Harpreet and his family leave the warm beaches of California for a snowy town across the country, Harpreet’s color palette changes as he relies on brave reds, nervous blues, sad grays, and shy whites which replace his happier moods. The long cold winter makes Harpreet feel even more like an outsider, until one day in the snow he finds a hat that belongs to a classmate. When he returns the hat, a friendship blooms and Harpreet feels colorful again. The digital illustrations depict Harpreet as joyful and exuberant, which makes his shift to sadness and isolation after the move palpable. Subtle details in the illustrations, such as kids staring at Harpreet’s “different” lunch, position him not only as the new kid, but underscore his feelings of isolation as a cultural outsider. Harpreet’s symbolic color system is used masterfully to add depth to the illustrations, as on the page where Harpreet sits, small and alone wearing shy white, on a background of joyful celebratory pink as a cascade of Valentines—most with his name misspelled—floats away.
VERDICT A lovely story about change and belonging that provides much-needed representation. A first purchase for all libraries

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