cover image The Color Wizard

The Color Wizard

Barbara Brenner. Bantam Books for Young Readers, $9.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-553-05825-3

This book is one of the premiere volumes of the Bank Street Ready-to-Read series for four- to eight-year-olds. The books are color-coded not according to age level, but to reading skills: blue for read-alouds, red for beginning readers, yellow for independent readers. The quality of the series, in general, is uneven, especially where artwork is concerned: in a majority of the books, the illustrations tend toward the cartoonish, which is disappointing. The Color Wizard may be the best of the lot: a wizard named Gray, who lives in a gray kingdom, eventually tires of his dull surroundings and begins to experiment with color. Brenner characterizes her snappy text as a ``little rap song,'' and it is well suited for reading aloud. But the real strength of the book lies in the Dillons' carefully crafted pictures. In this team's skillful hands, the wizard's colorless kingdom is transformed into a vibrant and joyous place--and it is that craft, rather than color coding, that really inspires children to read. Ages 4-8. (July)