cover image Colors


Ken Nordine. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201584-8

NPR commentator Nordine eschews ""pure"" color in this rainbow of idiosyncratic poems, which began as a series of radio ads for paint. Each two-page spread concerns one inexact hue, from a variation on blue (""As sure as there's azure, it's sure to be true/ azure is bored with just being blue"") to an account of ""the silly old color/ that lives next to red/ the one that is orangely out of its head."" Nordine introduces a frustrated chartreuse that wants to ""let green or yellow take over,"" an ""old old old old lady"" known as lavender, magenta the gossip columnist and a controversial shade called flesh (""flesh, as a color, is about as close to a problem/ as a color can get,"" he explains, noting the range of shades ""varying from complexion to complexion""). Drescher (Runaway Opposites) interprets the free-(color)wheeling verse in multimedia collages. He scribbles outside the lines, even when painting on strictly lined graph paper, and he populates the pages with tentacled monsters and misshapen, childlike drawings of people. The eccentric imagery and unpredictable poetic meter suit the colors' wild diversity; haphazard blends of yellow and blue go to prove that ""there's so many different greens inside of green."" Nordine and Drescher disdain straight-from-the-tube certainty; casting Roy G. Biv aside, they playfully consider the many shades of gray. This one's for more sophisticated readers, preferably those who have dabbled in colors themselves. All ages. (Mar.)