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Author: Tamaki, Jillian
Illustrator: Tamaki, Jillian
Publisher: Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press
Year Published: 2018
ISBN: 9781773060200
Grades: K-6

They Say Blue

Reviewed by:

Awards:  Finalist – 2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards – Young People’s Literature – Illustration

A stunning picture book from Toronto artist, Jillian Tomaki, that celebrates a child’s curiosity about the things she can see, and those that she wonders about.    It combines an exploration of colour, nature, and the changing seasons from a child’s point of view.

Full-page colour illustrations were rendered with a combination of acrylic paint on watercolour paper, and Photoshop.  All Tomaki’s illustrations suggest movement and energy from the swirling of the ocean, running children, swaying grass, driving rain, and a remarkable series of pictures of a child shedding winter clothes and bursting into spring, then morphing into a tree that has sprouted new growth.  Children will be intrigued looking for what is hidden in plain sight – e.g. when she wonders if a whale is blue careful viewers will see the shadow of the  mammal beneath the swimmer.  The illustrations add life to the musings of a small child as she explores and wonders about mysteries such as why the water in the ocean looks blue, but when she holds it in her hands it is clear.  She wonders about the colour of things she has yet to see (e.g. a blue whale, red blood in her veins) and about the things she knows (e.g. the orange of an egg yolk, grey clouds, golden grass).  Through the seasons of the year she wanders and wonders about the colour in her world.  Tomaki’s illustrations can be metaphorical as she captures the girl sprouting as she grows like a tree.  Tomaki’s use of colour captures the mood of the changing seasons (e.g. purple crocus for spring, soft browns in the fall, and icy blues in the quiet winter) as does her masterful use of figurative language and imagery (e.g. “black crows bob”; “hair parted like a window”; “a sea of sky”).

A lovely book to support Grade 1 Science units for Colour and Seasonal Change, or just to enjoy with a curious child.



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