Monday, July 28, 2008


The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin and illustrated by Rosana Faria is a very, very special book. Have you seen it? Our county libraries had three copies in Spanish and yet all copies are missing. I've requested they get copies in both Spanish, which is the language it was originally written, and English because this book is like a window into the experience of a blind child. Here is a review with an excerpt which I 've included below for anyone who doesn't have time to check out the link.

Thomas likes all the colors because he can hear them and smell them and touch them and taste them.

But black is the king of all the colors. It is as soft as silk when his mother hugs him and her hair falls in his face.

The pages in The Black Book of Colors are black with text in braille as well as script, and illustrations that are raised on the page. It's a sensory experience- conceptually profound and poetic.

Kim and I picked up some books at ALA and on the table at the Boyds Mills Press booth was a thick book with the illustrations cut out in textured fabric and also written in braille. I was told a few of these books are manufactured in India for the blind. The title was I feel a Foot! by Maranke Rinck & Martijn van der Linden.

Luckily, I got a copy of the print version. I would love to see the original illustrations because there is so much detail to the whimsical patterns painted on the animals. And wow what a palette! Imagine a turtle, bat, octopus, bird and goat asleep in their hammock. Turtle hears a noise. They all go to investigate in the pitch black. What each animal bumps into and what each believes he's found weaves a tale about perspective and sensory experience.

Now that I've written, perspective and experience, I have to mention that I braved going to the SF Moma with a friend and four young children to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit. I was a bit concerned that some of the paintings were too bloody, but the kids didn't focus on the entrails, third eye, pain or death imagery. I think they especially liked her eyebrows and the monkeys she painted. I was in awe of these great paintings which I had only before seen in printed publications. Well worth shuffling through the crowded rooms and seeing before it leaves SF.

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