The Black Book of Colors
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The Black Book of Colors

4.36 of 5 stars 4.36  ·  rating details  ·  1,084 ratings  ·  214 reviews
Living with the use of one's eyes can make imagining blindness difficult, but this innovative title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their f...more
Hardcover, 24 pages
Published June 28th 2008 by Groundwood Books (first published June 30th 2006)
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A Pet Banana by Othen Donald Dale CummingsA Color of His Own by Leo LionniBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.My Many Colored Days by Dr. SeussFreight Train by Donald Crews
Best Children's Books About Colors
16th out of 76 books — 48 voters
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48th out of 215 books — 131 voters

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Community Reviews

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Aug 12, 2010 Eastofoz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Children interested in Braille or the blind
What an unusual book. The concept is interesting: conveying the various hues of color to a blind person through touch. Written for children from the perspective of a young boy named Thomas, the book’s pages are all in matte and shiny black with raised pictures for a person to feel but I don’t think that actually helps someone understand color if they’ve never seen it. The accompanying text, which is also written in Braille, describes how colors feel and associates them with certain things and sm...more
Tina Roberts
I first saw this book at the Tate and was immediately struck by its originality. I couldn’t stop thinking about it so recently ordered it online.

The Black Book of Colours is a beautiful picture book, with a difference. There are no colours and no pictures to be seen. This is a picture book for blind children, told from the perspective of a blind child named Thomas. “Thomas can’t see colours, but he can hear them and smell them and touch them and taste them”.

On jet black pages Thomas uses imagery...more
Lisa Vegan
Sep 07, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the sighted who wonder what it’s like to be blind, and the blind to share with the sighted
This is a cool idea for a book, but I had a hard time loving it or learning from it because apparently my fingers are stupid. I’m really glad I haven’t had to learn Braille, though I suppose if it ever became necessary, I would find it possible. Here, the illustrations are raised black on black paper, there is Braille translation of the simple sentences on each page, and there is a full Braille alphabet at the back, which I think would take me a long time to learn to read.

I vividly remember bein...more
Moira Clunie
this book is a beautiful thing, but gets four stars and not five because i wanted it to be a bit more beautiful. the words are about different ways of perceiving colours: what they taste and sound and smell like to someone without sight ("green smells like lemon ice cream and smells like grass that's just been cut.") the pages are black, the words are in braille as well as print, and they're illustrated with raised tactile drawings.

but here's the thing: the braille isn't real braille (it's not...more
Close your eyes and reach out to read the grass on this page. Turn the page and run your hand over the entire page to read what's there -- keep your eyes closed! In fact, read this entire book with your eyes closed and you're in for a treat! After you read it with eyes tightly shut, go ahead and open them -- all you're going to see are black pages anyway, but if you look closely you will see shapes and figures that are raised and just a little glossier than the flat black of each page in this bo...more
This would have been a five-star book, but unfortunately as a child I both watched and was nightmarishly terrified by Mask, the dubious classic starring Cher, Eric Stoltz and Sam Elliott. As a result I kept having flashbacks to the scene where our hero is putting, like, cotton balls in the blind girl's hand to explain what clouds look like, and it really distracted me from the book itself.

I know. Mask is meant to be both heartwarming and touching. Age eight me, though, watched the entire film wh...more
There are no colors in The Black Book of Colors, ones we can see with our eyes, anyway. This book, by Venezuelan artists, pairs raised black line drawings with black paper – we can feel the “pictures” – and the text describes to us what colors taste, smell and feel like. White text is paired with black Braille letters, and the descriptions of the colors bring fantastic images to mind. I had to close my eyes to test if my fingers could read the difference between red (the shape of a strawberry) a...more
Cottin, M. & Faria, R. (2008). The Black Book of Colors. Toronto: Groundwood Books.

Starred review Booklist 2008.

Concept Book

This fascinating book describes color to those who are visually impaired, by telling how colors feel, smell, taste and sound. The pages are all black with text printed both in white and in braille. Each color is described on the verso page and on the recto page is a corresponding raised picture. “Green tastes like lemon ice cream and smells like grass that’s just been...more
This was an intriguing concept. The actual physical shape of the book, which is an elongated rectangle that when opened is very wide but not high, provides a lot of flat space for the hand. The only colors are white and black, with black predominating, and the illustrations are done in black on black, "visible" only by touch or through light hitting the glossy finish. The text itself, which is also present in Braille, describes colors through taste, smell, or sound. The ordering of details here...more
This really amazing book attempts to explain to sighted kids what it's like to be blind. The text (all of which is translated into Braille on the page) explains colors by using imagery, and opposite that is a page where raised black-on-black line drawings that can be deciphered by touch illustrate the text. A full Braille alphabet is also provided.
I cannot stop gushing to everyone about this book. It’s poetic, original and unlike anything I’ve ever read.

Although Thomas is blind and cannot “see” colors, he senses them in other ways. Colors are touches and tastes and smells. “Brown crunches under his feet like fall leaves. Sometimes it smells like chocolate and other times it stinks.” Water is colorless and therefore has “no taste, no smell.” Black is the “king of all colors” and is “soft as silk.”

The Black Book of Colors is a journey int...more
Last Ranger
The World of Touch.

This extraordinary children's book is a true work of art, a kind of meeting ground for the vision impaired and sighted children alike. Author Menena Cottin and artist Rosanna Faria, both from Venezuela, collaborated on the creation of this new approach to learning. The Black Book of Colors truly is black, every page! With embossed art and Braille text, black on black, the book defines colors without using visual aids. No easy task, try it sometime. Yellow taste like mustard an...more
Nojood Alsudairi
My heart was racing hard when I opened this book and realised what it was about. It is one of those books that I wish I thought of before the writer did. Thank you Hala.
Mar 02, 2009 Natalie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Myself, but in the dark next time.
That did not feel like brown. AT ALL.
Kids picture book. Randomly picked up by Josh during our weekly library haul. I read it to Josh with zero expectations and not much attention... But I don't know, I was almost moved to tears when I finished... Probably not the right emotions to have. Lol. I'm sure if you read this, and even if you do get the book, it would be different. Sorry for ruining this, no matter how vague I tried to keep my review. Something about the unexpected sneaks up to you, and knocks you off your feet. Original an...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I thought that this one had an interesting initial concept which raised my expectations for the book only to be disappointed once again. Presenting colours without visual evidence via sound and smell, taste and touch seemed great, with simple and poetic phrases for each colour that are rewritten on each page in braille. The flow to the text is that of a poem, unrestrained to some logical progression such as rainbow order and instead bringing together a realistic mash of sensations. However, I wa...more
lucy by the sea
Lucy Longstocking review

Okay, are you ready?

Close your eyes and think about the colour red, properly, no cheating, trust me on this one. What do you think of? Now close your eyes and think about blue – I said, no cheating. Do you think of the sky, the sea? What does yellow smell like? How does orange feel? What about black?

Okay, now keep your eyes closed, but open The Black Book of Colours; let your fingers travel over each page and your mind conjure the...more
This is a remarkable book. One that offers insight into what it's like to be blind. It is a book about colors that contains only the color black. Each color has a separate page with glossy raised pictures that are meant to be touched, not seen. White text accompanies these images, describing what you are touching.

Here's an example of the text from the "green" page:

He says that green tastes like lemon ice cream and smells like grass that's just been cut.

Lovely, isn't it? Each page is like that,...more
Rebecca Trujillo Batty
I saw this book on display at the library back and just had to check it out. Growing up, one of my best friends was blind. She did have sight as a younger child and lost more sight as time went on and she grew older. She knew what colors were what and continually lost more sight until she was even losing the ability to see shadows. But there are millions more blind people in the world that have not had the advantage of sight to know what colors are and I think this short 22 page book for childre...more
Cindy Benabderrahman
Apr 19, 2009 Cindy Benabderrahman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: children of all ages, art lovers, ASL students, aunts who read to their nephews
People who can see colors cannot possibly appreciate the taste, smell, sound, and feel of them as well as Thomas can. Thomas is blind, but in this color book, he shows that he knows the personalities of all the colors—and probably better than some sighted people. The book is black as night—but as we learn how Thomas sees color, we also get an impression of how there are different qualities to darkness, there are different aspects of black. Faría’s illustrations are all shiny embossing on the smo...more
Title: The Black Book of Colors (Illustrator)

Author: Menena Cottin
Number of pages: 24
Publisher: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press
Copyright Date: Spanish, 2006; English, 2008
Translator: Elisa Amado
Illustrator: Rosana Faria
Distinguishing artistic features: Raised black line drawings on black paper, which can be deciphered by touch, accompany a beautifully written text describing colors through imagery. The text is translated into Braille, so that the sighted reader can begin to imagine what...more
simply amazing.

from the inside jacket: "it is very hard for a sighted person to imagine what it is like to be blind. this groundbreaking, award-winning book endeavors to convey the experiences of a person who can only see through his or her sense of touch, taste, smell or hearing."

every page is black. the text is simple white font with braille above it. all "illustrations" are embossed black lines and figures.

and from the first page, each color is described with beautiful words that evoke every...more
Amy Musser
Can you imagine what it is like to be blind? This delicate book explores colors from the perspective of Thomas, a blind boy. Thomas describes colors as he experiences them – he can hear, small, touch, and taste them.

Originally written in Spanish and published in Mexico, this book won the New Horizons prize at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2007. The simple, but evocative text is printed twice, first in Braille at the top of the page and then in a white font at the bottom of the page. The en...more
Stacy Chrzastowski
Grade Level/Interest Level: K-5th grade
Reading Level: Level 3.6, 3rd Grade
Main Characters: N/A

This book is about describing several colors. The point of the book is to simulate what it would be like for students to be blind. All of the pages are black. At the top of each page is braille and at the bottom of each page is the translation in white font. Each page describes a color through words. This simulates that students that cannot see will be able to imagine what each color...more
Cottin, M. (2006). The Black Book of Colors. Toronto: Groundwood Books.


With a name like "The Black Book of Colors" how could you not want to read this picturebook. I ran out and hunted it down at my library. And by "ran out" I mean reserved it online and wandered on down to pick it up from my local branch several days later. But I was still excited to see it waiting for me on the shelf.

Appetizer: The pages of this picturebook are almost completely black. The story actually shares its t...more
The Reading Countess
In a writing setting, I find it challenging to explain to children the nuances of color. Being able to describe the vividness of an object is an absolutely essential tool in a writer's toolbox. This is a skill many of my own writers are weak in. "Show, don't tell" is challenging for a young writer. The Black Book of Colors is a wonderful mentor text to illustrate the vividness of an object through its own unique color. Jumping to the reading aspect of the book, it is a beautiful example of the i...more
When people ask the question, how to you describe a color to a blind person, the answer is finally here. This amazing book allows readers to use all the other senses except for sight to try and imagine what the colors would look like. This book is a great way to teach children what it is like to be blind as well as how difficult it can be trying to describe colors to someone who has never seen them before. Not only does it describe the colors though, it also depicts where the colors are in the r...more
This is a really interesting concept book. The book is about colors, but is entirely printed on gloss black pages with white writing. The "colors" are described by a seeing person to a blind person. The pictures are related to how the color is described and in raised patterns so that a blind person can feel the illustration.

Black Book of Colors is incredibly simple but has a profound goal--to describe colors in metaphors and symbols that a blind person could use to understand what they can't see...more
Lynn Plourde
The concept book features left-hand pages that are black with white text and braille on top of the page while right-hand pages have raised art so the reader can "feel" the concept being featured on each two-page spread. The words for YELLOW say it "tastes like mustard, but is as soft as baby chicks" and the "feel" page has raised feathers for the reader to touch. A great, unique concept book that can be used with blind kids and to educate seeing kids about blindness.
Raena Mceuin
I'm drawn to this book due to its unconventional nature and unique format that demands it's reader to be thrust into the realm it creates. The reader is begged to embark on a journey unlike their own to gain an insight and appreciation for those whom they embody's perspective otherwise untapped by something as intrinsic as sight. The Braille paired with grayscale depictions of the world offers lens to another side of the world they don't normally see, through which I hope to convey a sense of re...more
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