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by Lindsay Ward ; illustrated by Lindsay Ward

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-5420-2690-1
Publisher: Two Lions

A vibrant neighborhood loses its color, literally, as the community becomes fractured.

Color is not a subtle metaphor in this story of a time when “the colors were swept from our street,” told by an unnamed boy with pale skin. Initially, loose-lined illustrations depict a lively city block in bright hues, but as the “sounds became quieter,” the colors begin to fade. Then, after a violent storm of jagged yellow streaks and bursts of fiery sparks, the color is completely gone. Not only are the city and its residents now composed only of cartoony black lines, but on the ground there is a dark rupture (another line) that divides the neighborhood. In one illustration, the boy stands on one side of the split while a girl with dark skin stands on the other. Is the rift a racial one? The next illustration shows the same children indoors, waving at each other through their windows. Does this “empty sadness” that lasts a year represent the Covid-19 pandemic? Is the emphasis on lines a commentary on society’s disconnectedness? Unfortunately, this year any of these interpretations could be true, and the myriad possibilities dilute a clear message. Nevertheless, the boy decides to do the hard work of clearing the rubble the storm left behind, and as neighbors join in to help, smiles and laughter return, bringing, predictably, the color back.

Mixed metaphors cloud the power of this familiar message.

(Picture book. 4-8)