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Home | LS5603 Children's and YA Literature | LS6643 Nonfiction for Children and YA
Growing Colors

Growing Colors McMillan, Bruce. 1988. Growing colors. New York: Lothrop, Lee, and Shepard Books. ISBN: 0688078451.

The title of this simple yet captivating concept book states the main idea woven throughout the book. This text is filled with wonderful photos that show all the colors that can grow in a vegetable garden.

Using a repetitive and predictable layout, McMillan allows the youngest child to participate in "reading" this photo essay. Each double page spread uses the exact same format. The left page states the color, and the large font is printed in the color being portrayed. This word is printed on the bottom right of the page, and the upper left of this page shows a picture of an entire vegetable plant from a distance, such as a row of corn. The right page shows a close-up of the vegetable. Pages 30-31 show thumbnail photos of all the veggies used in the book with the color and name of the vegetable written to either side. The final page of the book contains a photograph of four peppers of different colors, and a three paragraph note from the author that discusses the ideas behind the book, his purpose for writing, and details about the process of photographing the vegetables. No further access features are included.

The clear standout feature of this book is the excellent photography. Never before have plain old raw vegetables looked so delicious and artistic at the same time. Each vegetable looks as if it is at the perfect ripeness for picking and has just been washed clean by a cool spring shower. The size of the pictures further enhances their usefulness by allowing the reader to examine every aspect of the vegetable in the photo. Jobe commented on this in his review by stating, "The intensity and vibrance of color is breathtaking. This is a spotless book -- even the onions and potatoes pulled directly from the dirt are ultra-clean. Exceptional clarity and artistic composition of the dew-tpped photographs makes each suitable for framing."

I read this with my 2-year-old, and he was truly captivated by the photos. He enjoyed being able to name the colors that he knows, and was inquisitive about the ones that he didn't recognize. He is just starting to recognize and differentiate between colors, so this was a real success at naptime today. His favorite picture was the photo on the last page that shows the four different colored peppers side by side. He seemed interested that they were all peppers, but they were different colors.

Jobe, Ronald. 1988. Book review. School Library Journal 35(1). In EBSCOHost (database online). Available from  Accessed 19 April 2005.

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Holly S.
Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University