WALL STREET JOURNAL – Featured Special- September 20
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Children’s Books: A Hue That’ll Make You Cry
By Meghan Cox Gurdon
Laura Vaccaro Seeger slips a considerable degree more complexity into the outwardly simple pages of “Blue”(Roaring Brook, 38 pages, $17.99), a picture book for children who are a step older, ages 3-7. An exploration of the many shades of a single color, “Blue” is also an emotional tour de force that sneaks up on the reader and, when it’s over, all but demands to be read again straightaway.
There’s a clue to the book’s duality on the front cover: What first appear to be random splotches of thick blue paint represent, in fact, a paw print. The paw belongs to a golden retriever puppy named Blue who belongs to a little boy (see right), and as the pages turn, and we encounter one type of blue after another (“baby blue,” “sky blue,” “midnight blue”), the boy and the dog get older. They frisk with balls and balloons and in the surf; they play tug-of-war and go camping. As in her previous color story, 2012’s “Green,” Ms. Seeger uses cut-outs in the pages to artful effect, giving glimpses of what has passed and what is to come.
For many readers, what is to come will be full-out sobs as eventually “old blue” lies without interest beside a full bowl of food—he’s not eating anymore—and then, on the next page, rests cradled and dying in the arms of the boy. Oh, we are blue! Yet death is not the end, for “new blue” and new love come to leaven the final pages of this tender story.