Color the Sky

David Elliott, illus. by Evan Turk. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-21207-6

As telegraphic verse lines by Elliott (Baabwaa and Wooliam) express a range of natural colors occurring on wild birds, Turk (The People’s Painter) illustrates with vivid, kinetic avian forms. In charcoal outlines, a large-eyed, curly-haired child whose skin is the color of drawing paper sits indoors, spying a bright cardinal out the window: “Red big./ Red small./ Red sits on my/ garden wall.” After the child ventures outside for a closer look, blue jays arrive: “Blue low./ Blue high./ Blue has taken to the sky.” Subsequent images foreground action, motion, and the flurry of wings; birds soar in and out of frame in deeply saturated swaths of pastel, impressing their respective hues on the child and the landscape. When the birds perch in a tree and start to sing, cyclones of color rise into the sky, and the child joins in: “ I sing with them,/ clear and light.” Via rhyming lines and many-hued lines and textures, the creators show how attention to the natural world can offer endless change and variation. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Book Group. (Feb.)