Shelter: A Mickey Bolitar Novel: Harlan Coben
Growing Bookworms Newsletter: October 11

Little Blue and Little Yellow: Leo Lionni

Book: Little Blue and Little Yellow
Author: Leo Lionni
Pages: 42 (board book)
Age Range: 0-3

Little-blue-and-little-yellow-image Little Blue and Little Yellow is a new board book edition of a book by Leo Lionni first published in 1959 (which was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year). I haven't seen the original picture book edition, but I quite like the board book version. The premise is very simple. Little blue and little yellow are blobs of paint. They each live at home with their larger, same-colored parent blobs of paint. They like to play games with lots of other colors, but they are best friends with each other. One day, after an absence, they hug one another. And turn into one big green blob! Kind of hard to go home to your blue parents when you are now part of a green blob. Fortunately (and creatively, I thought) it all turns out ok in the end.

Is there a larger message regarding tolerance for people of other colors in this book? Or is just a book that introduces small children to the way that colors change when you mix them together? I suppose you could read it either way. But the fact is that, taken straight up as a story about the adventures of two blobs of color, Little Blue and Little Yellow is delightful. And really quite perfect in board book format.

Lionni's illustrations are very simple and visually appealing, showing the blobs of color sitting in rows at school, running and jumping, and (after the merge) going through a tunnel and climbing a mountain. My favorite illustration is of several blobs playing hide-and-seek behind unspecified, jagged black shapes. It looks like an illustration by Calder.

The text is spare but enthusiastic, and accessible to the youngest of readers. Often Lionni continues the same sentence across several pages, inviting the reader to turn the page and continue. Like this (each line is on a different page):

Alas! The house across the street was empty.
He looked here
and there
and everywhere ... until suddenly, around a corner
there was little yellow!

Little Blue and Little Yellow is a lovely little board book, perfect for toddlers just learning about color, and a nice introduction to the work of Leo Lionni. Highly recommended for your baby gift collection.

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: June 14, 2011 (board book edition)
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.