Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Black Book of Colors

The Black Book of Colors
by Menena Cottin
illustrated by Rosana Faria
translated from the Spanish by Elisa Amado
braille translations provided by the CNIB
Groundwood Books, first published in 2006, first English edition, 2008
review copy provided by the publisher

I rarely link to Amazon, but if you haven't held this book in your hands yet, you're going to want to follow the link and at least get a better look at the cover. You won't see much else if you "Look Inside!"

But that's the point.

This is a book about color that will help a sighted person understand how a blind person experiences color -- not visually, but through the senses of touch, taste, smell and hearing. For example, "Red is sour like unripe strawberries and as sweet as watermelon. It hurts when he finds it on his scraped knee."

This book is bilingual -- English and braille. Each page of text (the English is white on the black page with the raised dots of the braille above it) faces a page with a sensory illustration. The illustration page is all black, with a raised image of the description of the color. On the page about red, there are strawberries on a vine that you can feel with your finger tips (and which a sighted person can't resist looking at by tipping the book in the light to see the raised image).

This book meets the Diversity Rocks! Challenge in a myriad of ways. The author and illustrator are both Venezuelan, and the translator is Guatemalan. The book is bilingual in English and braille. I have never seen a mainstream children's book with readable braille. And it's not a book about blindness, it's a book about colors. Amazing. I can't wait to share it with my students. I would love to share it with a child sitting on my lap with her eyes closed, reading along with me with her fingers.


  1. Thank you so much for telling us about this book. My students recently read a bio of Louis Braille; I was amazed at the level of curiousity it inspired. My kids want to get a sense of what it's like... this book seems to be a perfect continuation of our discussion. Off to B&N I go tomorrow night!

  2. Wow, I love this. The concept is amazing, and you described the book so well, I can't wait to see it for myself! I just put a hold on it at the library for my kids and I to read together. Thank you for your review!


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