The Classroom Bookshelf
Inside The Classroom Bookshelf


Written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2012
ISBN # 978-1596433977
Grades PreK – 2

Book ReviewThere is green, and then there’s green. In her new picture book, Laura Vaccaro Seeger masterfully merges double-spread illustrations and succinct language to show the deep green of a lush forest, the savory green of warm pea soup, and the glimmering green of fireflies against a night sky. And that’s not all. Seeger fully embraces the notion of concept books, extending beyond the hues of the crayon box to explore what the color green means to our world. There’s the “shade green” that a treetop canopy offers, the “never green” of a bold red stop sign, the “no green” of a snowy winter, and the “forever green” created by a child’s interest in planting seeds. Each acrylic paint illustration conveys a richness to the scene that goes beyond the page. And still there’s more! Each turn of the page reveals hidden cutouts that result in a delightful surprise related to the next exploration of green. There are concept books that serve their purpose, and then there concept books that are also astonishing feats of word play, art, and imagination. Share Green with your students, and it will be undeniable which kind of book this is.Teaching Invitations

  • Naming Colors. Colors like green and red are abstract concepts that are applied to objects with those colors, but other colors like orange, turquoise, and gold are derived from the objects themselves. Invite your students to brainstorm lists of colors, indicating whether their names are abstract or indicative of actual objects. Encourage them to bring in as many of those objects as they can find, or to search the internet for photos of those objects. Create a classroom bulletin board or wiki of all the wonderful color names they’ve found.
  • Creating and Playing with Color Shades. Mixing and creating colors has always been an enjoyable learning activity for children. After teaching them about the three primary colors and how mixing them to various degrees with each other and the color white creates other colors, assign them one of the colors of the spectrum as their base color. Using various art supplies or the online color mixer sites listed in Further Explorations below, have them create a range of shades or hues for that color. Have them take notes or create a chart about the specific colors they combined to record the process. Then have them share their notes with another student to replicate the combinations and learn to create various hues for a different color.
  • Creating Color Concept Books. Arm your students with cameras or iPads, and have them look out the window or take a walk with them around the school or neighborhood. Assign each student a different color and have them take photos of all the different objects they can find that are that color. Then, have them study the photos to compare and contrast the various shades of that color. Invite them to name and label each shade, such as “sidewalk gray” or “taxicab yellow,” and then use the photos to create a concept book of that color similar to what Laura Vaccaro Seeger did with Green.
  • Color and Mood in Picture Books. With the pages that illustrate “slow green,” “never green,” and “forever green,” Laura Vaccaro Seeger introduces readers to the ways that colors can connote certain moods. Picture book illustrators often use color to enhance the mood of the story. Share a variety of picture books with your students that effectively use color to highlight mood. Some examples include Molly Bang’s When Sophie Gets Angry… Really, Really Angry, David Shannon’s How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball, Jeanette Winter’s Mama, and Dr. Seuss’s My Many Colored Days.
  • The Absence of Color. Some pages of Green consider what the world is like without things that are green, such as when winter strips the landscape of leaves and covers the earth with snow. Engage your students in an inquiry to investigate what the world would be like without other objects naturally associated with specific colors? For example, if all things that are yellow in the natural world disappeared–such as the sun, bees, even swiss cheese—what would life be like? Invite students to write creative pieces that explore these questions.
 Critical Literacy
  • Colors, Symbolism, and Stereotypes. Throughout art, film, and literature, different colors have come to symbolize different meanings. Sometimes depicting or describing something with a specific color is effective for creating mood or symbolism, such as ominous gray clouds or a calm blue sea. Other times, using color for symbolism may go too far, creating stereotypes that need critical examination, such as villains dressed in black or baby girls dressed in pink. Collect a variety of picture books to share with students, and have them go through them to identify any stereotypes associated with color. Compile a class list of them, and discuss why those stereotypes exist and how one might be able to challenge them.

Further Explorations

Online Resources

Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s website

Coloring Games – a PBS Kids website

Mix and Paint Colors Activity – a Curious George website

Colour Factory Game – a CBBC website

Color Scheme Designer – an online tool for creating color schemes

Color Matters – an informational website about all things related to colors

Society of Dyists and Colourists – educational activities

Color Symbolism

(NOTE: Because of the plethora of wonderful concept books for children and young adults about color, the following list is limited to those that relate to the teaching invitations above, specifically focus on color in the natural world, the mixing of colors, and reflections on a single color, such as Green.)

Carle, E. (2011). The artist who painted a horse blue. New York: Philomel

  • A vibrant homage to expressionist artist Franz Marc where nature is turned on its head with animals painted the “wrong color,” done only as Eric Carle can.

Dunbar, P. (2008). Dog blue. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

  • A delightful story about a boy who loves dogs and the color blue and tries to merge the two.

Ehlert, L. (1992). Planting a rainbow. Orlando, FL: Voyager Books.

  • A delightful picture book that teaches children about gardening as well as colors.

Fleming, D. (1995). Lunch. New York: Henry Holt.

  • A picture book about the colors of foods and a very hungry mouse.

Jenkins, S. (2007). Living color. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

  • A beautiful exploration of the colors of animals by award-winning author-illustrator Steve Jenkins.

Katz, K. (2002). The colors of us. New York: Holt.

  • A book that celebrates diversity by comparing the shades of people’s skin to shades of delicious foods.

Seeger, L. V. (2008). Lemons are not red. New York: Roaring Brook Press.

  • Another fascinating concept book of colors and cutouts by the author-illustrator of Green.

Shannon, G. (2005). White is for blueberry. New York: Greenwillow Books.

  • An ingenious concept book that encourages readers to rethink the colors they see in nature.

Sidman, J. (2009). Red sings from treetops: A year in color. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

  • The Caldecott Honor picture book of poems devoted to the colors of nature.

Stewart, M. (2009). Why are animals blue? XX: Enslow.

  • Part of the Rainbow of Animals photo-essay picture books series that explores why animals in the wild are the colors they are. See also similar titles by the same author focusing on different colors (e.g., Why are Animals Orange? Why are Animals Green? etc.).

Walsh, E. S. (1989). Mouse paint. Harcourt Brace.

  • A picture book about mice who discover paint jars of the primary colors and what can be done with them.

Wolff, A. (2012). Baby bear sees blue. New York: Beach Lane Books.

  • A picture book in which a baby bear learns about the world around him through colors.
Grace Enriquez About Grace Enriquez

Grace is an associate professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former English Language Arts teacher, reading specialist, and literacy consultant, she teaches and writes about children’s literature, critical literacies, and literacies and embodiment. Grace is co-author of The Reading Turn-Around and co-editor of Literacies, Learning, and the Body.