CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 26. . . .March 13, 2015
No More Red.
n.p., Single Drop Publishing, 2014.
34 pp., pbk. & ebook, $11.47 (pbk.), $3.34 (ebook).
Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 3-5.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.
“Exactly what colour are the balloons?” asked Amy.
“Cherry red,” said Mom.
Amy squinted. She covered one eye. She covered the other. But no matter what Amy did, all she saw were white balloons. Her wish had come true. She couldn’t see red!
As I said in an earlier review, “Since its original publication in 1982, Stinson's Red is Best has become a Canadian classic.... Almost four decades latter, today's toddlers will still relate to Kelly and to her desire to wear and use things that feature her favourite colour.”
However, Kelly’s love of the colour red is not shared, at least immediately, by another little girl, Amy, who is the central character in Ferrante’s No More Red. Amy’s dislike of the colour begins when she spills ketchup on her new blue dress. Despite her mother’s best efforts to remove the colour with a napkin, the dress is ruined. When Amy’s dog, Skipper, steals her ice cream, it is the red colour of his tongue that Amy recalls. In falling off her bike, Amy scrapes her knee, sees blood oozing from the wound and feels pain. These three “hurtful” experiences, all connected to the colour red, led Amy to conclude, “I’m done with red” and to “spend” her wish on seeing the night’s first star by requesting, “I wish I never saw red again.”
The next morning is Amy’s fifth birthday, and her mother has decorated the house with balloons for Amy’s party. When Amy inquires about the balloons’ colour (see excerpt), she is delighted to discover that her star-wish has been granted as she only sees white balloons. As the day progresses, Amy receives a “white” fire truck as a present and encounters a “white”-nosed clown. Amy’s “knowing” that the truck and the nose should be red causes her to declare, “I miss red” and to use her birthday candle-blowing wish-time to rescind her star-wish: “I wish I could see red again.”
Rising the following day, Amy finds that her ability to see red has been restored. Amy’s toy fire truck is appropriately red as are the strawberries on her cereal. As mother and daughter drive to daycare, Amy observes the red light on the traffic signal. And at daycare, Amy, using her “fat, red crayon”, makes a “card” for her mother, while concluding: "Hurray for red...It’s the colour of love.”
As a story, No More Red mostly works. Youngsters will understand how Amy’s linking the colour red to a series of negative happenings could cause her to want to rid her life of it. And making wishes on seeing an evening’s first star and while blowing out birthday candles is a common childhood practice. However, the story falls down in Ferrante’s reversing Amy’s feelings about red. Ferrante uses just two instances of “missing” red, and, even together, they lack the impact of just one of the emotional and physical pain-relate events that caused Amy to initially reject red.
In terms of design, each pair of facing pages consists of a page of text and a full-page illustration that portrays a portion of the action described in the text. The text page is also illustrated but 'decoratively' with things that are predominantly red. For readers who can’t identify all of a page’s red items (or who just want to confirm that they were correct), Ferrante concludes No More Red with two pages that list all the red items by page.
As Ferrante is both the author and illustrator, she needed to make certain that her words matched the details in her illustrations. While the text reads, “When the clown arrived, his big hair was white”, an observant child reader will respond contradictorily. “No. It’s orange!” The candles on Amy's cake indicate that it's her fifth birthday, but Ferrante's artistic renderings, at least to me, make her look older than that.
Recommended with Reservations.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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