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A Taste of Colored Water
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A Taste of Colored Water

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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  150 ratings  ·  49 reviews
You could blame Abbey Finch. If she hadn't come back from town with tales of a fountain bubbling with "colored" water, LuLu and Jelly would not have needed to go see for themselves. But it's not Abbey's fault. It's the early 1960s and colored water isn't the fruit-flavored Technicolor wonder that LuLu and Jelly are expecting. And having a drink doesn't come without a price ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Taneka
I ran across this gem while looking for a book about "Water" for a class assignment. It is truly a gem. I have read countless books about the Civil Rights Era for children, but this books shows the events from the eyes of innocent children on the other side. Two children, Lucresia (LuLu) and Julius (Jelly) hear a story from a neighbor about a colored bubbler (water fountain). Who'd ever heard of "colored" water coming out of a bubbler? Lulu and Jelly are determined to go to town to taste the wa ...more
Lisa Vegan
Oh, I was fooled just as the two children in the book are fooled and confused. The book cover, with a water fountain spouting water in a rainbow of colors contributed to this. I was expecting a fantasy book. (I was thinking of the tooth fairy of my childhood who overnight took my tooth out of a glass of water and left a quarter in the same glass of now colored – with food coloring – water. I was too light a sleeper for my parents to do the under the pillow trick.)

However, the colored water in th
...more
Casey
A Taste of Colored Water is a historical fiction book. It is about a little girl and boy from a small town, who travel to the big city to search for the colored water they heard about from a friend. They imagine this water is going to be many colors with many wonderful flavors. When they finally get to the city though, they are in for a big surprise when they run into a march for civil rights.
Activities:
1)This would be a good story to read after learning about the Civil War or during Black Hist
...more
Patti Richards
My National Picture Book Month pick for today is Michigan author and illustrator Matt Faulkner's book, "A Taste of Colored Water,"(Simon and Schuster 2008). This book is special to me because of my deep southern roots and my family's stories of their experiences with the fight for racial equality. Matt does an amazing job of taking a difficult subject, often hard for children to understand, and treating it in a way that explains, while encouraging kids to draw their own conclusions about segrega ...more
Whitney Strickland
Author Matt Faulkner really does a remarkable job explaining a significant time in history through the eyes of children. When Lulu visits the city and sees a water fountain with print on it reading, colored water. She returns home to tell her friends that there is such a thing as colorful water and it pour out of a water fountain. Sadly to their surprise when returning to the city; the children find that the water is as clear as what runs through their faucets at home. This is where they see seg ...more
Barb Middleton
Great last line in this book. The tension is built up as the kids think the water bubbler (drinking fountain) produces flavored water like different flavored popsicles. They don't understand the issues of segregation where African Americans had to use a fountain different than white people and it was labeled "colored." This is a great read aloud that I had to explain because most students don't know the background regarding Jim Crow laws and civil rights. I've been reading these books all year s ...more
Taylor Ford
A Taste of Colored Water by Matt Faulkner was a very clever story, that had a very thick and strong plot. The story begins with two kids who live during the Civil Rights Movements. They live in the countryside of Alabama, and do not know much of what is going on in the world around them. All they know is one of their classmates told them that there was a water fountain in the city that was labeled 'Colored Water' and it only shot out water of different colors. The two kids then have the opportun ...more
Josephine
I heard about this book a few years ago from a co-worker, after a local pharmacist (white) told me a story about traveling to the deep South when he was a child in the 1940s. He'd grown up in Michigan, and this was the first time he'd ever been to a segregated community, and so the first time he'd seen the "colored" designator for water fountains, waiting rooms, and bathrooms. Unlike the kids in this book, he marched into the "colored" bathroom to see what a public bathroom with colored tiles lo ...more
Ruth
Very thought provoking. Loved the illustrations. The theme of the kids' naivete running smack-dab into the reality of intolerance is very well portrayed. The afterword is an important part of this book and could be read to an older child. I like this book; it covers a part of our history that needs to be remembered--so that it won't be repeated. And I think Faulkner handles it in a way that kids can relate to and that isn't overly harsh.

Courtney Sharpton
This is a beautifully written book about two kids misunderstanding about segregation. I would live to read this to my class when discussing segregation to talk about different view points. SO often we teach that most white people hated black people and there were only a few good people. We never think of the children who did not even know what segregation was because it was literally did not exist to them.
RachelAnne
A beautiful introduction to the Civil Rights movement for younger children. When a neighbor comes back from town with tales of "colored water fountains" in the city, the two main characters are tantalized by notions of flavored, rainbow-hued water bubbling out of the spigot, and they can't wait to go try it for themselves. The truth, of course, is much uglier. A great way to spark discussion.
Eugene
May 20, 2013 Eugene added it
I like this book very much. I thought it was funny that they thought "colored water" meant that the water was colored. But I also thought that it was mean to that a fire truck and splash water on African american just because you don't like their skin color. I think that the boys were very open minded, they of the good thing first before they thought of the bad thing.
Mercedes Enciso
Faulkner, M. (2008). A taste of colored water. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

A Taste Of Colored Water is a great, child-friendly book that gives us background information on what life was like for the people who had to live through segregation. This book kind of shows what was happening through the lens of innocent children who did not know what was going on or why there were so many crowds and police. As our instructor read us this book, I thought I was inspiring and ju
...more
Kat
This tells an interesting story of segregation and the Civil Rights movement from the perspective of two, young, white children. However, it does not directly explain anything. Instead it reflects an experience the kids might have had - wanting to try colored water because it should taste like different flavors. Witnesses a "parade" of people "singing" and policeman who might have been trying to do the singers a favor by cooling them down - with fire hoses powered to knock them off their feet. I ...more
Kate Werner
Set in the early 1960's, this book creates an interesting platform to begin discussing civil rights with young children.

Abbey comes home from running errands in the big city with her mom. She came home reporting she had found a sign in town that read, "Colored Water" hanging over a water fountain. Even though Abbey was known for lying, the other kids couldn't help but wonder about this "colored water" in town.

This book is a great way to view the civil rights movement from a children't point of
...more
John
Nov 16, 2014 John added it
Colored Water is a fantastic literary read for all who love equality. In a society that has battled with the inequalities between races, this book puts those difference, or the lack thereof, into perspective. The illustrations alone allow the reader to see the blending of cultures with the artwork blending colors throughout the story.
The story follows to young boys who misunderstand the meaning of "colored water", and instead believe the reference is toward water that is actually colored. The n
...more
Kathryn
Summary: A classmate comes back from the big city to tell her cohorts that there are water fountains that shoot colored water! Jelly and Lulu must go see this incredible sights.

Why I Read This: I sat next to Matt Faulker, the author, at a wedding, and this seemed like his book that was most up my alley.

Review: I enjoyed it. It was cute and well done. I think that it captures the innocence of the way that modern children would look at something so odd. But, I have no doubt that white kids at the
...more
Kim
Great way to introduce kids to equality and the past segregation.
Jennifer
The shape & color of the illustrations were brilliant. The first words of the book really draw you in & the entire book is well written. This is not your typical fluffy kids book, though. It delves into the racial discrepancies in US history, having 2 Caucasian children witness a civil rights protest, and be reprimanded for drinking from the "colored" fountain. The ending makes it clear that the children do not comprehend the racial tensions, which makes me wonder how much a young reader ...more
Karen
Should be paired with White Water- two very different perspectives at the same moment in history. Great read-aloud for Black History month- sure to spawn some great discussion.Particularly great for older kids - I'd use this all the way up through my 8th graders.
Charlene Tabet
I love this book! I initially thought it was about the history of pop. I love the equal rights movement and I think it's important for children to learn about it. I love how this book conveyed the idea from a child's point of view. Makes you think that in the eyes of a child there are no colored people.
Sara K.
My class really enjoyed this read-aloud. I love how the cover image and the title twist the reader's perspective of what colored water would be. The illustrations are key to this book. Often we see the tensions of two worlds on the page spreads: two kids in search of colorful rainbow water juxtaposed against the backdrop of a Civil Rights protest and police brutality. I love how it gives a glimpse of this difficult time in history to children in an appropriate and accessible way. My students wer ...more
Megan Gitter
shows the naivety of children, good way to introduce discrimination
Teri
This story is set in the early 1960s and tells about segregation from the viewpoint of a young white girl, Lulu, who loses her innocence when she confronts the racism toward blacks. Lulu and her cousin, Jelly, grab the chance to make their first trip to the big city because they want to taste the “colored water” people have there. Lulu and Jelly do not understand the scary street demonstrations they see—until they use a drinking fountain and are driven off by a yelling policeman and his vicious ...more
Becky
"Daddy, what color does a person have to be to get a taste of colored water?"

A tender and sad depiction of a terrible time in our history. Seen through the eyes of children interested in tasting "colored water" (after seeing a sign above a drinking fountain saying "colored".

Althought this is a picture book...beware..
It is geared for older children. I would suggest 6th grade and older.

I would have given this a 5 star rating, but I think some of the photos could have been less frightening (mainly
...more
Robin
Fabulously illustrated subtle story about two children's ignorance of Jim Crow laws and their experience witnessing a Civil Rights march. Worthy if an MLK read aloud session with discussion about segregation.
Sean Kottke
Like a lost chapter from To Kill a Mockingbird, this terrific book weaves together a child's wonder with serious political content, and leaves an open ending that can serve as a strong entry point for discussions of the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras. The text could be experienced effectively by itself as a short story, but the gorgeous art work deepens the appeal in both whimsical and serious directions. Essential reading.
Bethe
Innocent children from a small town in the south hear a friend talk about a colored water fountain in the big city. When they get a chance to check out the colored water, expecting a rainbow of colors and flavors, they are unexpectedly involved in the civil rights movement. Authors note explains more about the period.
Erica
Cousins Lulu and Jelly (8-10 years) hear about a water bubbler (drinking fountain) that has colored water. They manage to get a ride into the big city so they can find the magical water bubbler that has rainbow-colored water and must taste like fruit. Much to their surprise and sadness they wonder just what color does someone have to be to drink from the bubblers. Good intro. to civil rights. Rec for grades 3-7.
Shelli
I really think the author did a good job in the afterword portion of the book trying to get across the meaning of what "colored water" ment in the 50's and 60's. The story, however, didn't seem to illustrate the point very well. I would read this book to a class or young adult that has already learned about this period in history to help illustrate what they have learned but not as a means to teach them.
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Award winning children’s book author and illustrator Matt Faulkner grew up in a small town just outside of Boston, Ma. Upon graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1983, Matt took a job setting typography in NYC at an ad agency. Boy, was that the wrong job for Matt! Just as the studio manager was about to let him go, the owner of the agency saw the drawings Matt had done on his work t ...more
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