Becoming Blue by Ellen Tarlow, illustrated by Julien Chung. Beach Lane Books, 2022. 9781665900010
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5
Format: ARC (publication date 8/30/22) picture book
What did you like about the book? A blue square looks up to his friend, a red circle, and wishes he could be more like her. Red is always up to something fascinating; we see her swinging from a tree with cherries, racing to put out a fire or being the fire, stopping traffic, or telling jokes at a party. Blue follows meekly in her wake, never quite hitting the mark until Red has had ENOUGH. “Stop copying me!” she yells. “You are Blue. Go be Blue!” So Blue hits the road and becomes watery and sad sometimes; he enjoys matching the sky and heroically helps put out a fire. Red now welcomes him back and they even play at becoming…Purple! Chung employs simple shapes and black-and-white graphic accents, such as lines, texture, and outlined objects to tell an easy-to-understand story about being yourself. A small black and white dog bounds through the illustrations and brings extra interest and a look-and-find element to the narrative.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The shapes didn’t have a lot of character or expression and thus the story felt a bit underwhelming.
To whom would you recommend this book? With its positive message about self-esteem, this could be a good read aloud for very young children. Possibly useful as a bibliotherapy title or in an SEL collection and a read alike suggestion for those who have enjoyed Kathryn Otoshi’s concept books Zero, One, and Two
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: July 8, 2022