A romanticized view of a popular color honored by the American Library Association
Green. By Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, $16.99. Ages 2–5.
By Janice Harayda
A half century ago, Dr. Seuss helped children learn about colors with his rhyming trochees: “One fish / two fish / red fish / blue fish.” Laura Vaccaro Seeger takes a similar approach in her celebration of every environmentalist’s favorite color, which begins: “forest green / sea green / lime green / pea green.”
This 32-word book introduces different kinds of green by pairing thumping rhymes with boldly painted pictures and cutouts that, like windows, show a different view depending on whether you’re looking in or out (or, in this case, at the first page on which they appear or the next): A cutout that defines a pea on one page turns into the eye of a tiger on the next.
Green has no rhymes like “bile green / sickly green / vile green / prickly green,” and its romanticized green-is-good subtext borders on an environmental cliché. But Vaccaro Seeger is a fine painter who can make impasto acrylics rest as lightly on the page as a firefly. You just wonder how may 2-year-olds will come away with the idea that zebras have green stripes after seeing such a creature in the illustration for the final line of the quatrain: “Jungle green / khaki green / fern green / wacky green.”
Best line/picture: The picture of the “wacky green” zebra is great even if drags the concept of the book sideways and the joke will sail over the heads of 3-year-olds who have no idea what a zebra is.
Worst line/picture: All of the lines in the book begin with lower-case letters except for “Jungle green / khaki green …” which begins, senselessly, with a capital J. And as others have noted, the one of the cutouts of fireflies on the “glow green” spread doesn’t line up perfectly with what it’s supposed to reveal.
Published: March 2012
Furthermore: Update: The American Library Association named Green a 2013 Caldecott Honor Book on Jan. 30, 2013.
Green has emerged as a favorite for the Caldecott Medal ( which will be awarded Jan. 28, 2013 ) in the Mock Caldecott contests sponsored by libraries and others.The trailer for Green shows much of the book. The headline on this review has been changed to reflect its Caldecott honor.
About the author: Vaccaro Seeger wrote First the Egg, a Caldecott Honor book. She lives on Long Island.
You can follow Jan on Twitter by clicking on the “Follow” button in the sidebar on this page.
© 2013 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.