A Touch of Red for a Winter’s Day

From “Red Sings From the Treetops”

A few weeks ago, while alphabetizing the poetry section at the store, I came across Red Sings from Treetops, a most extraordinary work of picture book art. Pamela Zagarenski’s art is vibrant and surprising. She has a playful, very European style. Every time I open the book, something new pops out at me in the illustrations. Her work captures the essence of Joyce Sidman’s loving and original ode to both seasons and colours. I have read a lot of poetry, and what makes Sidman stand out from the rest is the fresh and surprising imagery she conjures with her pristine and thoughtful word choice.  I’m still mooning over this image:

In the winter woods,

Gray and Brown

hold hands.

Their brilliant sisters—

Red, Orange, and Yellow—

have all gone home.

Gray and Brown sway shyly,

the only beauties left.

The teacher in me is reeling with all the potential creative projects that stem from this book. What does yellow smell like in spring, in winter? Which colour is the meanest? Which one is the life of the party? What sound does purple make in a snowstorm? It is a wonder I was able to get back to work.

Red Sings from Treetops is one of those books that demands reverence. You must find a friend, sit, and take turns reading it aloud to each other. I’m not the only one who loves this book. Check out the glowing blogger reviews at Shelf Elf , Fuse#8, and  7Imp . Just this week it was named one of the Caldecott Honor books. Well done, Houghton Mifflin, well done.

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