by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
illustrated by Daniel Minter
Alfred A. Knopf, 2022
The moment readers open Blue, they will know this is an extraordinary book. The expository picture book traces the history of the color blue beginning with lapis lazuli (blue rocks) found in Afghanistan circa 4500 B.C. to blue squeezed from snails in Mexico and the middle east. The story doesn't just focus on the origin of the color blue, but it also examines peoples' views of the color and how blue has influenced society. Historically, the color blue has been in high demand for jewelry and luxury clothing and goods. Brew-Hammond explores how growing indigo became a less expensive alternative to rocks and snails and how the crop contributed to the slave trade and the enslavement of people in the U.S.
Readers will pore over the pages featuring Minter's gorgeous acrylic wash illustrations on heavy watercolor paper will make. The intricate illustrations incorporate varied textures, patterns and hues. The book ends on a hopeful note with hands stretched toward the sky with blue a "symbol of possibility." Back matter includes an extensive list of sources, additional facts about the color blue, and an author's note. Blue would make a wonderful gift book for children or adults. It could be read as a text in art class or in a history lesson. The book has won an Orbis Pictus award from NCTE, and I expect it will receive more awards in January.