Cover image for The color of home
The color of home
Publication Information:
New York : Phyllis Fogelman Books, c2002.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 28 cm.
General Note:
Originally published: Great Britain : F. Lincoln, c2002.
Reading Level:
680 L Lexile
Geographic Term:
Added Author:
Hassan, newly-arrived in the United States and feeling homesick, paints a picture at school that shows his old home in Somalia as well as the reason his family had to leave.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book EASY HOF 1 1
Book EASY HOF 1 1
Book EASY HOF 1 1

On Order



This remarkably moving picture book follows first-grader Hassan through his first few days at school. Hassan has only recently arrived in the United States after he and his family were forced to flee Somalia, and he deeply misses the colorful landscape of his former home in Africa. But with the help of his parents, an understanding teacher, and a school art project, Hassan finds that by painting a picture of his old home and sharing his story, his homesickness and the trauma of leaving a war-torn country are lessened. And he finds that there are many things to like about his new home in America. The colorful, impressionistic illustrations are a perfect complement to the wonderful text by Mary Hoffman, author of the highly acclaimed Amazing Grace. Together art and text make this poignant story accessible and affecting for a young audience.

Author Notes

Children's author and reviewer Mary Hoffman was born in 1945. She attended Newnham College to study English literature and University College London to study linguistics. She started writing in 1970 and has written about eighty children's books including the picture book Amazing Grace, the Stravaganza series, and the anti-war anthology Lines in the Sand. She is also the editor of the children's book review magazine Armadillo, which comes out four times a year.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-Hassan, a recent immigrant from Somalia, is homesick on his first day of school in America. Though the teacher is nice and the children are friendly, adjusting to a new culture, especially a different language, is a struggle. When the teacher distributes art supplies, Hassan discovers a way to communicate. He paints two pictures- one to share the story of his life in Somalia, and another that depicts his hope for a bright future in his new home. Readers gain a realistic child's perspective on what it is like to be forced to emigrate from a war-torn country. The sensitively told story also demonstrates the value of art therapy in helping children to make the transition to a new environment. Littlewood's impressionistic watercolor illustrations, many of them spreads, beautifully convey Hassan's sadness, fear, and ultimate happiness. A title that will spark classroom discussion.-Ajokei T. I. Kokodoko, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

Through painting his first picture, which alludes to his uncle's violent death in Somalia, new U.S. immigrant Hassan communicates his despair to his teacher and faces his homesickness and grief. This is a frank introduction to the harsh realities that some children face (Hassan recalls the awful smell of burning and blood). Although Hassan's story is complex, the watercolor images are busier than necessary. From HORN BOOK Spring 2003, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A picture is worth a thousand words and, in this case, helps a young immigrant Somali boy make the transition into his new culture. American school boards could learn much about enlightened mentoring through how the teacher finds resources to welcome Hassan, the boy with no English but plenty of artistic expression. European schools daily deal with great migrations of displaced people from other cultures and this is a classic example of how they cope. Showing how the door is opened to school as in life by way of a simple narrative, Hoffman-who gave the world another victorious child in Amazing Grace (1991)-prepares Hassan for a time when he will accept a new home that at the moment looks a bit gray and drab to him. Through painting in class, he tells his own colorful but tragic story, opening his heart to allow himself to see all the colors surrounding him. Littlewood, a Greenaway nominee for Swallow Journey (2001), carries the metaphor with her colorful and layered watercolors that evoke Hassan's psychological landscape. Her pictures are loose-one might say unstable-moving at second glance with all the color and light that create a comfort zone for the young boy's predicament. The subtext of Hassan's family as persecuted Muslims might give children pause to find a new perspective on today's headlines. (Picture book. 4-8)

Booklist Review

PreS^-Gr. 3. The author of the popular picture book Amazing Grace (1991) tells another moving story here of an immigrant kid in the classroom. Hassan's Muslim family was driven from their home in Somalia by the violent civil war. On his first day of school in America, everything looks gray and strange and he can'st speak English. Then in art class he paints a picture of the happy home he remembers before the soldiers came to his village. When he paints a second picture of the nightmares that haunt him--the flames and bullets that killed his uncle and drove his family out--his teacher brings a Somali interpreter to translate for him, and he tells her his refugee story. Littlewood's beautiful impressionistic watercolor paintings reveal the child's memories of his African village: the warmth and light and then the terror. After that there's the flight, and the pictures do a great job of expressing Hassan's sense of dislocation in a gray, unfamiliar place, until, finally, he sees the bright colors of his school and his new home. --Hazel Rochman