Monday, September 12, 2011

Leo Lionni: little blue and little yellow


Originally published in 1959 and recently re-released in board book form to celebrate its 50th anniversary, little blue and little yellow began Leo Lionni's amazing career in children's books. Over the decades, four of Lionni's books have been named in the Caldecott Awards: Frederick, Swimmy (my personal favorite), Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse, and Inch by Inch.

The main characters in this sturdy board book are scraps of colored paper. Little Blue (a blue scrap) has blue parents, and Little Yellow (a yellow scrap) has his yellow parents. They each have friends of various colors in school and at play. 
When Little Blue can't find Little Yellow one day, he searches high and low. When they find each other, they are so happy that they hug it out…and hug and hug until they become green! Uh oh! Now their parents don't recognize them. This dilemma will have totz glued to the story and rooting for a happy ending. Where did little blue and little yellow go? Are they lost?

The two scraps begin to cry, and their tears are blue and yellow, not green. Seeing this, their parents finally recognize their scraps. All ends well.

This book is one I hadn’t seen before, even though it has been around forever. At its heart, it’s a story of friendship and acceptance, but it’s also a fun read, and functions as an intro to color blending. I can see it leading to a family or classroom art project, in which totz create their own colorful, well-blended, scrappy characters.
30 page board book  
author/illustrator: Leo Lionni  
Alfred A. Knopf , 1959 / 2009 re-release


Lorie Ann Grover said...

Joan, this was my next pick to review! I loved it, loved it, loved it.

I wonder if the thoughts were even bigger, like an encouragement to integration in schools? Or since my totz are on the other end of the age spectrum, I wondered if this was about parental acceptance of children's marriage partners.

Post Modern Leo!

Joan Holub said...

So Lorie Ann and I chatted, and she will write a companion review of this book in the coming months, likely October. I'm looking forward to it, LA!