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Saturday, March 20, 2010

One, written and illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi. KO Kids, Publishers Group West. 2008. $

"Blue was a quiet color.
He enjoyed looking up at the sky,
floating on the waves,
and on days he felt daring...
splashing in rain puddles."

At times, Blue's wish is to be like his friends...yellow, green, purple and orange. Mostly he likes being Blue, but for Red. Red bullies and belittles Blue, and it hurts. Blue is afraid and so are his friends. Because of that fear, no one does anything to stop Red. As bullies do, Red gains strength and size. Soon, he is picking on everyone. Then along comes 1, who refuses to be intimidated by Red. When Red rolls away in disgust, 1 explains his position and the others are strengthened by that. They stand together and give hope to Blue who stands tall and becomes one of them! Red is hot, but Blue remains cool. Red sees what is happening and loses power, and rolls away. It is Blue who gives Red a chance to be part of the 'group'. 1calmly makes the comment that 'everyone counts'.

"Sometimes it just takes One."

The story could be pedantic and preachy, but there is never a hint of that. Kathryn Otoshi starts with splotches of color and builds her story from there. I love how powerful the message is while being so original and simplistically told. Our youngest children will surely empathize with the feelings of the characters; the message is equally clear to much older students as well. This is a book that deserves attention from kindergarten through middle school. It carries a deliberate message...that we all count and everyone has a place in our world. Red is not left out, despite his previous actions. That is an important consideration for those who listen to this fine story.

If you are interested in learning more...go to You will be so grateful that you took the time to see what is posted there. The messages are clear and uplifting to all of us!

As if the lovely story were not enough, Kathryn Otoshi finishes with a dedication that makes my heart glad : "To indy booksellers, my librarian friends, and loyal readers. You keep my spirit alive." Ditto!

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