Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, illustrated by Daniel Minter


            Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, illustrated by Daniel Minter, Alfred A. Knopf, 2022. 9781984894366

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book? I have never wondered why I can buy a dress in any shade of blue I want but after reading this book, I am very grateful that I can.  “As early as 4500 BC, diggers found blue rocks called lapis lazuli in mines deep below Afghanistan’s Sar-e-Sang Valley.” At first the rocks were used to make jewelry and charms, believing the stones had the power to protect people from evil.  Few could afford the stones as they were rare and very expensive.  In high demand, additional sources were sought.  Some shellfish were found to contain a few drops.  Finally it was discovered that the Indigo plant was a source. In 1905 a scientist, Adolf von Baeyer, won the Nobel Prize after creating a chemical blue – after trying for forty years!  It is not just sources for the color, but the feelings and emotions that the color expresses like “feeling blue”, singing the “blues” are also mentioned.  Expressions like “out of the blue”, “once in a blue moon” are also part of Blue’s history.   Minter’s exquisite illustrations, created using layers of acrylic wash on heavy watercolor paper, illuminate this original, extraordinary book.  A fascinating and enlightening read.

Anything you did not like about the book? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? This book begs to be read aloud to art classes and lower grade classrooms.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries and classrooms, art teachers, too.

Where would you shelve it? 535.6

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, please.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Contributor, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review:  March 9, 2022

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