Dr. Seuss's My Many Colored Days
illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A children's book about color and emotion
Dr. Seuss wrote this little piece in 1973. He accompanied it with a letter stating his hopes for it, declaring it needed "a great color artist who will not be dominated by me."
As it turned out, the proper artist wasn't selected until after Seuss's death, and he/she turned out to be he and she - Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson, a husband-wife painting team.
Some days are yellow.
Some days are blue.
On different days I'm different too.
Johnson and Fancher give us two little gingerbread men who look like negative images of each other. Noteworthy: both are smiling. The yellow one is sun-colored, the blue clearly a creature of the night. But for Seuss, blue isn't about sadness, or any brand of negative emotion.
You'd be surprised how many ways
I change on Different Colored Days.
The gingerbread men turn cartwheels against a lush canvas divided into color quadrants, changing color as they cross from one section to another.
For Seuss, brown (slow and low), black (mad), gray (nothing happening) and purple (sad and alone) are the colors you'd prefer to spend the least time being.
But it all turns out all right, you see.
And I go back to being me.
Fancher and Johnson paint the word "me" in a gorgeous multi-hued fashion, with all the colors crowding to fit in, just as they do the familiar gingerbread man we see on this final page, back to sunny yellow but blurred at the edges with the other colors that comprise his complete self.
A stunning collaboration, My Many Colored Days is a much delayed gift from the good Doctor, a colorful springboard for a discussion of emotions and how they're a big part of who we are.
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