Written and illustrated by Ann Jonas
Color Dance by Ann Jonas was another find from my dance-themed book search. In addition to being good for little dancers, it’s a great book for any child who is growing interested in colors, how they work, what they’re called and how they change when blended.
I (and my three-year-old reading buddy) appreciated the book’s focus on the colors themselves. It doesn’t get into terminology–primary, secondary, color spectrum–but it teaches these concepts. The simple images of three little dancers, representing red, blue and yellow, set on a white background keep the reading focused and streamlined.
I enjoyed the book’s introduction of a broader world of color. Instead of simply telling us that blue and yellow make green, for example, we learn some of the more fanciful shades. Chartreuse. Vermillion. And later–magenta, marigold, aquamarine! These words were fun for my little reader to encounter and sparked her curiosity. “Chartroooose?!?” she exclaimed incredulously.
There also seemed to be something pleasant and comforting for her in the orderly boundaries of color. She enjoyed the pages that told us what each color can and cannot do. “Purple and red is blue mixed together. No yellow.” “Red and red can only make reds.” She enjoyed repeating these simple statements. Maybe for children, who have to live inside the boundaries we set for them all the time, there’s something nice about knowing that even colors have limits too.
My one qualm with the book is that the “red” dancer is most definitely wearing pink! This was a little confusing for my reading buddy, and it led to straight-up mayhem when I tried to do this as a read-aloud for a group of elementary kiddos. Despite my attempt to preface and nip revolt in the bud, there were at least 5 passionate protestors: “THAT’s not RED!!!”
But, it’s not the end of the world. Maybe it could even lead to interesting conversations. What is color, anyway? Who gets to decide? How do I know that you see what I see??? Are we all just living in hopelessly isolated states of impossible-to-communicate differences in perception?!?!?! Discuss, children.
Anyway, it’s a good little book. My friend wanted to read it again and again. And I noticed it got her interested in color in a whole new way–organizing and sorting her crayons, arranging them as shown in the book’s color wheel; talking about colors throughout the day, naming them in her environment, claiming favorites (chartreuse, now, in case you were wondering). Considering Color Dance came out in 1989, I’d say its ability to still spark such interest means it has stood the test of time and is worth a read.
It would be a great book to accompany exploring a new box of crayons (especially Crayolas, with their whimsical names). It would also be a fun book to use to facilitate a dance activity with a group of preschoolers or kindergarteners–perhaps with colorful scarves, tissue paper or (for the brave) fingerpaint involved? Or, take your creativity to the kitchen with these color cupcakes.
More to explore…
Read-aloud potential? This could be a good read-aloud for preschool or kindergarten/1st grade children, especially if paired with some sort of art activity that allows them to put their growing grasp of color into action.