If the names of authors Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria don’t ring a bell, I am not surprised. First off, they are Venezuelan and The Black Book of Colors was first published in Mexico. Since then it has been translated into many languages.
Do ask your librarian to buy this book- just the title itself is enough to capture your attention: black is a color? Except for the white print at the bottom of the page to the left, the entire book is black. Above the white print, the text is embossed in braille. The facing pages to the right have a raised image that you can see at a slant but helps you imagine what it might be like to be blind- to depend on touch for seeing.
For example, one entry reads: “Thomas says that green tastes like lemon ice cream and smells like grass that’s just been cut.” And on the facing page, embossed grass dances across the black page and flies up in the air as though it has just been cut.
My favorite entry reads: “Black is the king of all the colors. It is as soft as silk when Mother hugs him and her hair falls in his face.” How lovely is that?
The braille alphabet is at the end of the book. Kids enjoy writing their name or a short note in braille for their friends to decipher. At a basic level, the book introduces children to the world of the blind and braille. At a higher level, through imagery the book takes children past sight and into the world of the sightless.
- Imagine that you are writing for the blind. How many sensory images can you pack into describing a color or an object?
For those readers who live near Colorado Springs, I highly recommend the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center which has (perhaps because The Springs is home to the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind) a sculpture exhibit designed for the blind or for those who would like to experience blindness on a limited scale. Before you enter the exhibit, you mask your eyes, and then you follow the exhibits by feel. It’s another world.
I have also, thanks to the grandchildren, been introduced to Shaun the Sheep, from the Oscar-winning creators of Wallace & Gromit. (Although in my opinion, much better than Wallace & Gromit.) See www.shaunthesheep.com. Some cartoons you out-grow, but you don’t have to be a youngster or an English farmer to fall in love with Shaun. I think I’ve found a birthday present for my husband.
The sheep do not talk; the humor is strictly situational and visual. Check it out!