Courage of the Blue Boy
Robert Neubecker. Tricycle Press, $15.95 (28pp) ISBN 978-1-58246-182-3
Unlike the bedazzling freshness and simplicity of his Wow! City!, Neubecker's exploration of courage unfortunately seems rather didactic and familiar. The title blue boy, tired of living in a land where everything is blue, sets out with a blue calf named Polly to find all the colors of the world. Like a junior Everyman or Harold with his purple crayon, the hero appears to begin an allegorical journey. However, when the blue boy discovers a ""big beautiful city"" containing lots of colors, the book begins to morph into a story with themes that seem too weighty for its simple structure. The boy realizes the city lacks blue, so he slips blue works of art underneath the door of his apartment (a blue poem, song, book and painting). Then the blue boy summons ""all of his courage,"" and peeks outside to find that the city has integrated his blueness. As if ideas about an artist's alienation and one city's incorporation of diversity weren't enough, the blue boy ""breathes in all of the colors of the city"" until he is figuratively and literally ""every color of the world""-except for ""his big blue heart."" Neubecker's illustration of the blue boy transformed into fingerprinted spots of color is a standout, but the book seems designed to impart a message, and the lesson it offers is muddled. Ages 3-up.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006