cover image Ready for Red

Ready for Red

Candace Whitman. Abbeville Press, $8.95 (30pp) ISBN 978-0-7892-0311-3

In Whitman's (Night Is Like an Animal) My First Colors series, Yellow and You starts out the strongest of the trio of titles, inviting readers to imagine ""What can you do with yellow?"" Beginning with simple collages of yellow cut paper on watercolor backgrounds of blue, she shows aspiring artists how to make first a sun, then a slicker and next a blanket ""for a newborn babe."" But then Whitman changes the scale: a spread with the text ""Can you make a bus? Or a giraffe?"" depicts a giant giraffe towering over a school bus, which in turn dwarfs its waiting passengers. This uneasy segue from the realistic to the abstract breaks the book's initial charm, and leads the way to a clunky conclusion (""Can yellow make that book the book beside your telephone?/ [Yellow's on the sticky slip of paper with a note when you come home]""). Unfortunately, the other two books are also characterized more by this shifting perspective than a familiar coziness (e.g., in Bring on the Blue, ""Twilight brings blue jays home for the day,/ As blue as the bluefish in from the bay""). While in all three titles Whitman makes a convincing show of color in her creatively textured collages, the overall presentation is hampered by the haphazard texts. Ages 2-6. (Feb.)