cover image Color Chaos!

Color Chaos!

Lynn Rowe Reed, Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-2257-9

The narrator, an aspiring illustrator who is itching to use his new box of 64 crayons, runs afoul of “substitute principal” Mr. Greystone (clearly the lowest of the low in the school hierarchy), who furiously confiscates all coloring tools and bans “color of any kind.” With the school suddenly a sea of gray—not an ideal turn of events given that the day’s guest is a famous illustrator, Maurice Coleur—can the discarded crayons, markers, and paints overcome their bickering (“If you weren’t so yellow, you’d find a way out of here!” says one crayon to another) and stage a comeback? Reed’s (Basil’s Birds) terse, reportorial prose is the perfect counterfoil to the subtly controlled chaos of her collage and acrylic illustrations, which look like the work of a precocious, Red Bull–fueled kindergartner. Although the final word is a little pat (“Color matters!” says the substitute principal, reformed after an old-fashioned bonk on the head), the giddy goofiness of the story conquers all. An appendix provides easily digestible lessons in color theory. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)