Here’s a beautiful picture book that showcases color as a powerful force with a mind of its own.
Swatch by Julia Denos
Publisher: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2016
Genre: Art, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, Picture Book
Source: Purchased at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (Amherst, MA)
Swatch is a color tamer who collects the best colors in jars and uses them to create beautiful things. But when she sets out to catch the King of All Yellows, she finds that Yellowest Yellow might just have a few tricks of its own.
I love Swatch for the way she is constantly covered in paint, for her bravery and creativity, and for the beauty of her job as a color tamer. She’s a fun character, and her love of art and color is infectious. The end of her story could be a great opportunity to spark discussion with young readers. On one hand, I love the idea that art should not be tamed and that creativity and a little wildness can be a good way to create something new. On the other hand, you can step away from an art perspective, consider the colors as animals, and think about what it means for them to be tamed or set free. That perspective might be a little different than expected, but I think it could be a good way to draw students into the book and add another level to the discussion.
The art throughout this book is incredible, particularly the lion at the end, and I can just imagine how much fun it must have been to create. I was lucky enough to attend Denos’ presentation at the Eric Carle Museum for Swatch. She read her book aloud during storytime and did a brief presentation of her techniques with watercolor, water, and a hair dryer. I loved seeing how she created her art and used the materials, and the kids really enjoyed watching the colors and images come together. Creating art with watercolor could be a great activity for them to try on their own after you’ve read this book together!
For more information:
Julia Denos’ official website
Check out our review of Just Being Audrey, written by Margaret Cardillo and illustrated by Julia Denos!
**** 4/5 stars
Beautiful, powerful art
Clear message, creative story