Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Thursday, October 10, 2013

From the Backlist: The Day-Glo Brothers

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand New  Colors
by Chris Barton
illustrated by Tony Persiani
Charlesbridge, 2009
ISBN: 9781570916731
Grades K-5

A 2010 Sibert Honor Book

The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her school library.

You know that you're in for a treat from the very beginning of this unique picture book biography. Upon opening The Day-Glo Brothers, readers will notice the fluorescent yellow, green and orange endpapers. Those bright colors play an important role in the story.

Brothers, Bob and Joe Switzer, grew up in the 1920s. The boys were both industrious and creative, so it's no surprise they used chemicals from their father's drugstore to create fluorescent paint. I've shared this book with many students in the age 8-10 range, and it's been a big hit.  The narrative style is very accessible to young readers, and the illustrations are visually appealing. Most of the illustrations near the beginning of the story are drawn in black, white and gray. When a fluorescent item appears on the page it quickly catches the attention of readers. By the end of the book, day-glo colors take over the page.

Barton does an excellent job of showing how an invention we see frequently in the twenty-first century has been used to save lives at sea, at airports, and at construction sites. Be sure to read the author's note which includes information about how Barton got the idea for the book and a list of sources he used in his research.

Pair this book with Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy or The Boy Who Invented TV by Kathleen Krull for a study of inventions.

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