Cover image for The color of the sun
The color of the sun
First U.S. edition.
Physical Description:
218 pages ; 23 cm
Publisher Annotation: One hot summer morning, only weeks after his father’s death, Davie steps out his front door into the familiar streets of the Tyneside town that has always been his home. But this seemingly ordinary day takes on an air of mystery and tragedy as the residents learn that a boy has been killed. Despite the threat of a murderer on the loose, Davie turns away from the gossip and sets off toward the sunlit hill above town, where the real and imaginary worlds begin to blur around him. As he winds his way up the hillside, Davie sees things that seem impossible but feel utterly right, that renew his wonder and instill him with hope. Full of the intense excitement of growing up, David Almond’s tale leaves both the reader and Davie astonished at the world and eager to explore it.


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Award-winning author David Almond pens the dreamlike tale of a boy rediscovering joy and beauty within and around him, even amid sorrow.

One hot summer morning, only weeks after his father's death, Davie steps out his front door into the familiar streets of the Tyneside town that has always been his home. But this seemingly ordinary day takes on an air of mystery and tragedy as the residents learn that a boy has been killed. Despite the threat of a murderer on the loose, Davie turns away from the gossip and sets off toward the sunlit hill above town, where the real and imaginary worlds begin to blur around him. As he winds his way up the hillside, Davie sees things that seem impossible but feel utterly right, that renew his wonder and instill him with hope. Full of the intense excitement of growing up, David Almond's tale leaves both the reader and Davie astonished at the world and eager to explore it.

Author Notes

David Almond has received numerous awards, including a Hans Christian Andersen Award, a Carnegie Medal, and a Michael L. Printz Award. He is known worldwide as the author of Skellig, Clay, and many other novels and stories, including Harry Miller's Run, illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino; The Savage, Slog's Dad, and Mouse Bird Snake Wolf, all illustrated by Dave McKean; and My Dad's a Birdman and The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon, both illustrated by Polly Dunbar. David Almond lives in England.

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Almond (Skellig) walks the fine line between reality and illusion in this reflective novel about a wandering boy. A few weeks after his father's death, Davie's mother urges him to go out into "the lovely world outside that door." After filling his haversack with childhood mementos and his mother's delicious bara brith, he sets out to rediscover his British town, Tyneside, which he considers a "dead-end place." But things are happening: an older boy, Jimmy Killen, is rumored to have been killed. Davie sees the body, but despite warnings of a murderer on the loose, he keeps walking, encountering figures familiar to him: a priest who is questioning his faith; Shonna Doonan and her "sweet and lovely" voice; and Zorro Craig, who is widely suspected to be Jimmy's murderer. Ghosts, too, including Davie's father, visit the boy, offering words of wisdom and a heightened awareness of the world's wonders. Through economic prose expressing Davie's memories and keen observations, the book subtly shows the protagonist's grief over losing his father and childhood innocence. Spanning only one day, it evokes the mysteriousness of life, the power of imagination, and moments when childhood and adulthood intertwine. Ages 12--up. (Sept.)

Horn Book Review

Davie's day begins with shocking news. One of the older village boys has been murdered by another, a longstanding feud between their two families having escalated. Or so we think. Ostensibly in search of the murderer, Davie sets off to wander his Tyneside town and countryside, meeting friends and strangers, listening to stories, pondering big questions, sketching. Some of his encounters are funny: two bossy little girls creating a fairy world. Some involve village characters: Molly Myers from the pork shop; Wilf Pew, the one-legged man who speaks like a philosopher. Some are genial: a visit with an amiable lesbian couple. And one is genuinely threatening: an attack by thugs. As Davie wanders, he "walks through everything today as if through a dream, as if through an unfolding tale." We gradually realize that Davie is taking a journey through grief, culminating in a dream-vision of his recently deceased father. In its slipping in and out of naturalism, this novel echoes Almond's Kit's Wilderness (rev. 3/00), using summer in its intensity, harshness, and beauty as the previous book used winter. Taking place in a single day, this story works particularly well because of the authenticity of the setting; the dreamlike quality of the prose; and the specificity of one particular off-kilter, grieving, curious, sweet boy. Sarah Ellis November/December 2019 p.82(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Three weeks following his father's death, Davie goes for a long walk through his North England town. It's a hot summer morning, and as the day stretches on, the temperatures rise along with a certain uneasiness. Davie's meandering path to the top of a hill is interrupted by various townsfolk, each one brought to vivid life by a few simple descriptions from Almond, and there's a certain, ever-present oddness, a subtle discomfort that is bolstered by the news that a boy has just been murdered and his killer is abroad it could be anyone. This is a quiet, contemplative book, though, and as Davie wanders on, so does his mind, ruminating on death even as the world around him hums with life. Almond manages to craft deeply real stories touched by magic that itself feels true, being so well rooted in character and emotion in this case, Davie's grief. Thematic and lyrical, colored by Newcastle slang and the English countryside, this is one for the deep thinkers and those who are dealing with grief.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--In spite of, or perhaps because of, his father's death just three weeks prior, Davie's mother sends him out of the house on an "ordinary" summer day. She's baked some "bara brith"--bread sweetened with dried fruit--to take along; she's firm but kind. Award-winning English novelist Almond directs his protagonist with a similar sureness: the plot, a road trip of sorts, allows other characters Davie meets along the way to supply the drama as he sets off on foot for a sunny hill outside of town. First Davie's mate Gosh Todd shows him the body of a kid their age he claims has been murdered, casting a long shadow on Davie's outing. Then he meets two women he's known all his life who speak to the "vulnerability of all babes" as they retell the folktale of a child stolen out of its pram by a buzzard, perhaps never to return. This only makes Davie curious about what "the warm breeze at his back" would feel like were he to be abducted, because maybe he would like to be lost, too. As Davie's many surprising encounters--a local priest who reveals he's in love, a "bonny" lass crushing on shy Davie, an ugly stray dog who keeps him on track--start to dislodge Davie's isolation, readers too are touched by this small-town, gossipy community who nonetheless care about an adolescent boy coming to terms with grief. VERDICT In this piece of masterful storytelling, a small town offers its own brand of solace to a young teen struggling with loss. Recommended.--Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY

Kirkus Review

The blurred boundaries between life and death, love and hate, joy and sorrow, wild and tame form the heart of this dreamlike story.Tyneside boy Davie sets off a few weeks after his father's death to wander aimlessly through town on a hot, sunny summer's day. He encounters a friend who shares the titillating news of his discovery of a dead bodya slightly older boy apparently killed in a knife fight with a young man from a rival family. Short chapters describe Davie's conversations as he rambles about, seeking the chief suspect. Along the way he stops for conversations with a disillusioned priest, two little girls playing an imaginative game of fairies, an old man who lost a leg in a mining accident, a woman who shares a fantastical story of a baby lost and found, and a veteran who gently nurtures his flourishing garden, among others. Dreamy, artistic Davie loses himself in his imagination and in the contradictions of the untamed beauty of his surroundings: larks and buzzards, buttercups and abandoned coal pits. Touches of humor, pithy words of Northern common sense, and moments of heightened tension and mystery provide grounding elements in the midst of the reverie. All characters in this English town appear to be white.A haunting tale of embracing transformation and finding beauty in an imperfect world. (Fiction. 12-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



One   It's an ordinary summer day, the day that Jimmy Killen dies and comes to life again. It's the middle of the summer, when it sometimes seems like time stands still, when it seems there's nothing at all to do. Davie's in his bed, in the shadows behind his bedroom curtains when it all begins. The whole day lies before him, but he wants to stay there. He wants to be older so he could be with a lass or go drinking with the lads. He wants to be younger so he could run about yelling like a daft thing. His mam calls up from down below. "Davie! Get yourself out into the sun, lad!" He peeps through the curtains. He's dazzled by the light. He can see nothing when he turns back to his room. He rubs his eyes till his sight returns and he sees it all anew. "Davie!" "Yes, Mam!" He starts digging through some ancient toys. Animal masks have been hanging inside his wardrobe door for so long he's nearly forgotten that they're there at all. They've been gathering dust since he was four or five. A gorilla, a tiger, a horse, a fox. The fox was best. He'd pull it on and leap and screech to make his parents terrified. He does it again now, alone in his shady bedroom. He looks out through the fox eyes and raises his claws, and he snarls and imagines he's slaughtering a coop full of chickens. "Davie! What the heck you doing up there?" He laughs and rips the mask off. He laughs again to see the plastic antlers dangling on the door as well. How could he have forgotten them? He sticks them on his head. He steps quietly through the room, looking out for predators. He rocks his head and shakes the antlers. He leaps and dances silently, and soon the antlers start to feel like proper antlers. The room feels like a forest. He starts to lose himself in the old game of being a boy who's also a beast. He pauses. Why am I doing all this? he wonders. Maybe it's time to get rid of things, time to chuck this childish stuff out. Mam calls from down below again. "Davie!" "Aye!" he calls. "Coming, Mam!" But he keeps on digging. He finds some ancient coloring pencils, from when he was maybe five or six. There's an old sketchbook as well, with a faded green cover and brittle pages. He opens it and comes upon things he hasn't seen for years: scrawled pictures of dark monsters and slithery snakes. Stick figures of his mam and dad, pictures of the house, a scribbly sketch of a lovely black-and-brown dog they used to have called Stew. A page full of pictures of himself. A picture of a baby with messy writing beside it: Davie as a bayby . A picture of an ancient man with a beard: Davie wen he is old . And here's the beginning of an ancient tale that starts and then gets nowhere past the first two sentences: Wons ther was a boy calld Davie and he wonted an advencha. So he got sum sanwichs and he got his nife and set owt into the darknes . The ends of the pencils are chewed and he chews them again, and he thinks how weird it is that he's probably tasting himself as he was all those years ago. "Davie!" There's an old gray haversack. His dad gave it to him a few years ago. Davie used to stride around the house with it on his back, marching and saluting and carrying an imaginary rifle on his shoulder. He puts the fox mask, the antlers, the pencils and the book into it. He slings it across his shoulders and goes down. Mam's in the red-hot kitchen. She's been baking, making bara brith and lemon meringue pie, such lovely things. There's a smell of lemon, raisins, warm yeasty dough. Davie salivates as he imagines the delicious food on his tongue. She stands there with her arms folded. There's drifts of white flour on her red-and-white apron. Dad's favorite painting, of sunflowers, is shining bright on the wall behind her. Sunlight pours into the room. "About time!" she says. "Now eat that breakfast and shift those bones." She guides him to a chair at the table. There's a bowl of cornflakes and some toast and some orange juice. She hums a tune and spreads her arms and shifts her feet in a gentle dance. She smiles and sighs as he eats and drinks. "Now get yourself out into the world," she says. "What world?" "The lovely world outside that door." He grins. "I've been there before, Mam. I've seen it all before." She grins back at him. "Aye," she says. "But you haven't been in it on this day, and you haven't seen it in this light." "And what if there's a mad axman on the loose out there?" She taps her cheek and ponders for a moment. "That's a good point," she says. Then she shrugs. "It's just a risk you'll have to take!" She laughs at the haversack. She asks what's inside and he tells her. "Those old things!" she says. "Didn't you use to love them!" She smiles as she gazes back into the past for a moment. Then she puts a little package into his hand. It's a piece of warm bara brith, wrapped in waxed paper. "There's butter on it," she says. "And there's a slice of Cheshire cheese with it. Won't it be delicious? Put it in the bottom of your sack so you won't be tempted to eat it too soon." He does that. She puts her hands around his head and plants a kiss at the top of his skull. She blows away the floury dust that she leaves there. She spreads her hand across his back and gently guides him to the door. Excerpted from The Color of the Sun by David Almond All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.