Thursday, January 24, 2019

Review - The Little Rainbow Dragon: And 17 More Colour Stories

The Little Rainbow Dragon: And 17 More Colour Stories
by Marion Ireland & Margaret Lewer
illustrated by Brooke Lewis
Date: 2017
Publisher: Xlibris AU
Reading level: C
Book type: short stories
Pages: 84
Format: e-book
Source: library

Imagine a world without colour! Such a world would be dull and boring. Planet Earth is full of colour, and people all over the world love and appreciate colour in its many forms. Children will find their favourite colours in this unique collection of colour stories that tap into the imagination and enthusiasm of children, starting with a fantasy story about a colourful little dragon. Stories about all the colours of the rainbow plus black, white, grey, pink, brown, turquoise, silver and gold have been created to also give children some understanding and appreciation of colour and its relevance in their world.

Some stories contain a subtle message skilfully woven around the characters. For example, The Little Rainbow Dragon has a subtle antibullying message. A Story About Black has a subtle message about overcoming being afraid of the dark. Children all over the world relate to timeless stories such as these. They also provide a vehicle to foster a love of literature. Reading to children is, and always has been, an essential element in establishing a framework for independent reading.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Where does our library get these books? I never expected to find a self-published Australian book at my local library in British Columbia, Canada, and yet here we are.

Here are my thoughts on the individual stories:

"The Little Rainbow Dragon"

This is a fairly cute story about a little dragon who isn't like all the other dragons who can change their colours with the seasons. This dragon has scales in every colour of the rainbow, and he's always colourful. One day, after being bullied a little, he goes and has a cry and then breathes in some fire from a nearby volcano. When he breathes it out, he breathes a rainbow. Everyone thinks that's pretty neat.

"A Story About Red"

Oh, dear. I think I can see how the rest of this book is going to go. This is a dull "story" about a boy named Graeme who likes red things, especially race cars. It's like the authors threw in a mention of every red object they could think of, and the story culminates in a dream of a red race car that runs on raspberry drink. The last line asks why some people like watching racing cars. (I'd rather know why someone thought this "story" would be interesting.)

"A Story About Red and Orange"

This is a strange story. What's the point? Two little girls--one with red hair, one with black hair--go to the park with their families for a picnic. There's a bushfire, so they all have to flee. Then the girls have a sleepover, and decide each girl's hair colour suits them the best. I... don't get it.

"A Story About Orange"

We have here a sentient tractor. It can't even be glad it's providing habitat for countless creatures. No... it's unhappy until it sees its former owner. (What is this thing? A lost dog?) This book is getting weirder and weirder...

"A Story About Yellow"

This is an insipid story about a disobedient chick who almost gets eaten by a fox. The story isn't quite as bad as some of the previous ones... but then the illustrations go and let it down. You don't say there's six baby chicks and then draw seven!

"A Story About Green"

This is a boring story about some frogs who hide out from a snake who wants to eat them. Then a kookaburra swoops down and grabs the snake. The story ends with a question: What do you think happened next? Gee! I have no idea! /sarcasm

"A Story About Blue"

Blue, blue, blue, blah, blah, blah, blue, blue, blue.

This one has not plot. It's almost just a list of blue things, and an underused octopus who could've been a good villain. But good villains don't just squirt ink into the water and swim away. Where's the conflict?

"A Story About Indigo"

This could've been a decent (if pedantic) story about indigo: the plant and the colour. But then Tran had to go and say that eggplants are indigo, and that's just going to confuse kids.

This story also ended with another annoying question for the reader. These questions make the book seem very juvenile.

"A Story About Purple"

This is a story about another picnic. Which foods do I think they ate? Um... the ones in the picnic basket? (If they're going to be put off by a bit of mulberry juice, then they have more pickiness than sense. It all ends up in the same place, anyway!)

"The Rainbow Lorikeets"

This is a story about the stupidest little girl in the world. Belle asks her mother why rainbow lorikeets are called rainbow lorikeets. It takes her a moment... and then she realizes they have feathers in a rainbow of colours!

Wow, Belle. You're so smart.

"A Story About Black"

This isn't really a story about black. The first part takes place in the late afternoon during a thunderstorm and power outage. At best, it's a story about dark grey. It's not pitch black during a daytime thunderstorm!

Then the boys take a trip on an underground train. They're afraid it will be dark, but it isn't. They realize they had nothing to fear. (It's not such a terrible message, but it does read really young.)

"A Story About White"

[Teachers] know all about little kids.

Ha, ha. Goat joke. I'm dying with laughter.

This is a boring story about a girl who visits her grandparents' farm and makes a goat friend. Said goat eats her homework and she gets angry. That's about it, really.

"A Story About Grey"

Okay, first of all, birds don't just lay eggs and have them turn into chicks. There's the fertilization process, you know. (Immaculate goose conception!) Second, why do all the baby birds in this book come in sets of six?

As for the question at the end, you know, I really don't care what Sad Sack's new name will be. (Although, it could be something suggesting divinity, since he did manage to fertilize his girlfriend's eggs without even touching her.)

"A Story About Pink"

The poor kid is on the verge of losing his pet pig, and the father just stands there and laughs? Way to have empathy, Dad.

You could see how this one was going to end, but still, that doesn't excuse the father's rather callous reaction to his son's emotional pain.

"A Story About Brown"

Oh, my god. Now we're equating brown skin with mud. I kid you not. Harry's brown skin is continually described, and the story ends with the following exchange between him and his father:

"Just look at you!" His father laughed as Harry reached the veranda steps. "You'd better wash that brown mud off before your mother sees you."

"Why bother?" Harry grinned. "I'm just as brown underneath. Besides, Mum always says that brown is beautiful."

Nice try, but you still just equated a person of colour with dirt. (How much do you want to bet that the authors of this book are white?)

"A Story About Turquoise"

Here's yet another story for very, very young children. Have I ever tried making new colours by mixing my paints? Only a few hundred times. (I suspect the answer will be similar for most people over the age of three.)

"A Story About Silver and Gold"

This one is about a little boy going to visit his other grandparents by plane. Lots of mentions of silver and gold things are scattered throughout. It's pretty boring.

"The Hospital Clown"

I'm not someone who's afraid of clowns. If you are, do not read this story. The illustration of the clown will probably give you nightmares. (It freaked me out a little!)

This story is about a girl who hurts her ankle playing soccer and has to go to the hospital. The language--just like in many of the other stories--is too adult and weirdly unemotional. I just couldn't connect to the kid or her problems... and I couldn't figure out why everyone loved seeing this clown coming; why weren't they all running way and screaming in terror?

"The Rainbow Song"

This is actually a song, not a story, complete with sheet music. I'm not about to break out the piano, so I don't know if it's even a decent melody, but at least the rhyme and meter look okay.

The problem with many of these stories is that they're aimed at very young children (some of the characters are only five years old), and yet there are few pictures and a lot of text. And much of the text is written in a way that sounds like it's part of a non-fiction work for adults. I never felt much emotion when I was reading any of these stories. Descriptors are pretty much limited to the colours of things, so we don't get much in the way of evocative prose. (It's not purple prose, though, so I guess that's something.)

The illustrations in this book are really weak. There also aren't nearly enough of them, given the fact that it appears to be a book aimed at very young children (I'd say ages 3-6). It took me a while to read this, simply because there was so much text. Slogging through all these "stories" and colour names ended up being tiresome.

Overall: 1.45 out of 5

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