Cover image for The black book of colors
The black book of colors
Uniform Title:
Libro negro de los colores. English
Publication Information:
Toronto [Ont.] ; Berkeley [Calif.] : Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, c2008.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : ill. ; 18 x 29 cm.
Reading Level:
520 L Lexile
Added Author:
This title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their fingers.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book EASY COT 1 1
Book EASY COT 0 1
Book EASY COT 1 3
Book EASY COT 0 1

On Order



A New York Times Book Review choice as one of the 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2008

It is very hard for a sighted person to imagine what it is like to be blind. This groundbreaking, award-winning book endeavors to convey the experience of a person who can only see through his or her sense of touch, taste, smell or hearing.

Raised black line drawings on black paper, which can be deciphered by touch, complement a beautifully written text describing colors through imagery. Braille letters accompany the text so that the sighted reader can begin to imagine what it is like to use Braille to read. A full Braille alphabet at the end of the book can be used to learn more.

Author Notes

Menena Cottin studied design and illustration at the Pratt Institute in New York where she began writing books. Her most recent title, The Black Book of Colors, was selected as a School Library Journal Best Books of the Year. She lives in Venezuela.Rosana Faria has illustrated many highly regarded children's books, but illustrating a book to be touched has been her greatest challenge. She lives in Caracas, Venezuela.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Attempting to convey the experience of blindness, this non-picture book by a pair of Venezuelan artists reads triumphantly. White text appears on black pages, with braille above; on the facing page, also black, images suggested in the text are printed in raised black lines--inviting the reader to discover them through touch alone. (Decoding the images this way, not incidentally, is difficult.) "Thomas," the narrator begins, "says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick's feathers." Opposite, delicately drawn plumes float across the page. While the concept is arresting in itself, Thomas's proclamations about color reveal him as a bold, engaging character. Red is "sour"; brown "crunches"; and green "tastes like lemon ice cream." He has given careful thought to all the colors, "but black is the king.... It is as soft as silk when his mother hugs him and her hair falls in his face." It would be a mistake to read the book as a message about how the other senses compensate for blindness; "compensate" doesn't do justice to all that Thomas offers about what he tastes and feels and hears and smells. Ages 5-10. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* How do you describe the colors of the rainbow to someone who cannot see them? This inventive picture book relates the ways Thomas experiences colors through his senses of smell, taste, touch, and hearing. To Thomas, red is the sting of a skinned knee or the tartness of an unripe strawberry; green, the scent of freshly mown grass. What is most remarkable about this book's captivating concept, however, is its execution. Black raised line art is set against black pages that echo Thomas' spirited imagery and invite readers to explore what it's like to read with their fingertips. The descriptive, sensory text, which also incorporates white type and Braille, combined with an innovative design, makes this book the perfect starting point for discussions on difference, perspective, and experiencing and describing the world in new ways, topics that are relevant to readers of all ages. Winner of the New Horizons Prize at the 2007 Bologna Children's Book Fair and originally published in Spanish, the book concludes with a Braille alphabet.--McKulski, Kristen Copyright 2008 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 8-With entirely black pages and a bold white text, this is not your typical color book. Meant to be experienced with the fingers instead of the eyes, this extraordinary book allows sighted readers to experience colors the way blind people do: through the other senses. The text, in both print and Braille, presents colors through touch (yellow is "as soft as a baby chick's feathers"), taste (red "as sweet as watermelon"), smell ("green smells like grass that's just been cut"), and sound (brown " fall leaves"). Faria's distinctive illustrations present black shapes embossed on a black background for readers to feel instead of see. One page even describes a rainbow. A guide to the Braille alphabet appears at the end of the book. Fascinating, beautifully designed, and possessing broad child appeal, this book belongs on the shelves of every school or public library committed to promoting disability awareness and accessibility. A feast for the fingers.-Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.