A Most Unusual Book of Colours

Our amazing librarian introduced me to an equally amazing book!

The Black Book of Colours book review and three follow up activities.

Title: The Black Book of Colours
Author: Menena Cottin
Illustrator: Rosana Faria
Publisher: Groundwood Books, 2008
Genre: Colours, Senses, Disabilities
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5 stars

Synopsis from Book List:

How do you describe the colours of the rainbow to someone who cannot see them? This inventive picture book relates the ways Thomas experiences colours — through his senses of smell, taste, touch, and hearing. To Thomas, red is the sting of a skinned knee or the tartness of an unripe strawberry; green, the scent of freshly mown grass.

Opening Lines:

Thomas says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick’s feathers.

Why I Like This Book:

This book is very unusual and innovative. I’ve never seen anything like it! The entire book is black, with embossed illustrations and braille. My class was fascinated with it and the realization that blind people can think of colours in terms of touch, taste, smell and sound.

One word of caution though: The braille is very difficult for blind people to read, as the dots aren’t high enough to properly feel. A beautiful book for sure, but it’s meant for sighted people to gain some insight into a blind person’s world.


1. Have your kids write colour poems, using only their 4 other senses. Click the image to grab.

2. Try this gorgeous embossed foil craft from Kids Craft Room. It’s a fish puppet. The raised surfaces on the fish will give your kids another way to get a sense of how braille feels.

3. No Time For Flash Cards has this fabulous list of 21 five sense activities for kids. You really need to check this out!


Of course, AFTER I finished writing this post I realized that Beth, from By Word of Beth, already featured this book in Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Hopefully, Susanna (the hostess of this weekly linky) and Beth won’t mind that I’ve done another review πŸ™‚

Happy Friday, folks!


19 thoughts on “A Most Unusual Book of Colours”

  1. This book looks amazing, Barbara! And I love the activities you thought up to go with it. I love the idea of experiencing color through sense other than sight, and it reminds me of Red Sings From Treetops, the way Joyce Sidman describes color. Thanks so much for sharing this one!

  2. I can see why your class was fascinated by this book. I am fascinated by just reading about it. I hope the library has it!!!Great activities, as always πŸ™‚

  3. You have stopped me in my tracks! Last year I studied all about illustrations and how drawing is so critical for young children. This year I wanted to focus on writing, but you and Sandi are making me wonder if I should study art instead.Thank you.

  4. Beautiful book for many reasons, Joanne! It is too bad that the braille is not readable by the blind…but what a valuable book to help young people (and adults as well) gain an appreciation of what the world 'looks' like to someone who cannot see it with their eyes. πŸ™‚


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