A Most Unusual Book of Colours ~ And Some GREAT Resources


Our amazing librarian introduced me to an equally amazing book!

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

Author: Menena Cottin
Illustrator: Rosana Faria
Publisher: Groundwood Books, 2008
Genre: Colours, Senses, Disabilities

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. 

Links to Resources:

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

2. Embossed foil:

This beautiful artwork came from Kathy at Art Projects for Kids. For Grade 1's, I'd modify it slightly by giving the kids small chipboard to work on and have them make very simple and few glue designs. Be sure to visit Kathy for the complete directions.

3. No Time For Flash Cards has this fabulous list of resources. 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 :)

Happy Friday, folks!


  1. Quite brilliant. Thank you so much for this recommendation!

  2. Thanks for all the suggestions. The Black Book of Colors looks very interesting.

    School Is a Happy Place

  3. Replies
    1. It's so different the kids aren't sure what to make of it at first:)

  4. Beautiful book! I love the way the opening line is written. I would imagine the students fall in love with this one!
    Conversations in Literacy

  5. Brilliant book. Worth at least 2 reviews on the same blog!

    rubberboots and elf shoes

  6. 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!

    1. Thanks Susanna. I think I have Red! I'll have to go searching through my stacks. Thanks for dropping by!

  7. Looks awesome! Perfect for us now that we are studying Helen Keller too- a great connection for our inquiry.
    The Meek Moose

  8. 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 :-)

  9. Quite unique. This is one I'd love to share on my blog. I have to get it! Thank you for sharing!

  10. 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. Kimberley
    First in Maine

  11. I love this book; so glad you chose it for PPBF. Thanks for the perfect activities to go along with it.

  12. 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. :)


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