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The Black Book of Colors

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,275 ratings  ·  395 reviews
A New York Times Book Review choice as one of the 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2008

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 experience of a person who can only see through his or her sense of touch, taste, smell or hearing.

Raised black line drawings on black paper
Hardcover, 24 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Groundwood Books (first published June 30th 2006)
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Average rating 4.37  · 
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 ·  2,275 ratings  ·  395 reviews

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Dave Schaafsma
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Black Book of Colors is a wonderful book to help a sighted person imagine what it is like to be blind. Facing pages have a kind of Braille experience, raised black line drawings on black paper, which can be deciphered by touch. Words help kids experience blindness metaphorically, in terms of other senses.

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

“Red is sour like unripe strawberries and as sweet as watermelon. It hurst when he finds it on his sc
Moira Clunie
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
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
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I got this book because I was curious if it truly introduced people to what it is like to be blind, and I have to say, it does. I'm blind, and I love to bring this book out at gatherings and hear the discussions that occurs because of this book. The book's illustrations are interesting to feel, and even though the braille is obviously not meant for reading by the blind, I could read it. I liked how they included the braille alphabet at the end, because people just can't imagine how you can read ...more
Lisa Vegan
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Tina Roberts
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Innovative Children's Books Addressing Blindness, Color & Perception
Venezuelan author/illustrator team Menena Cottin and Rosana Faría team up in this innovative picture-book that attempts to communicate the experience of being blind, and of how colors might be perceived by the blind, to young children. Simple but poetic text describes how colors are experienced by a young blind boy named Thomas, while the artwork on the facing page is done in raised clear line drawings on the deep black paper. The text for sighted children is in white text on the black paper, an ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-colors-k
This is guaranteed to stimulate discussion. For example:

Red is sour like unripe strawberries and as sweet as watermelon. It hurts when [Thomas] finds it on his scraped knee.

Is that a way to describe red? How would you describe a color?

The pages are totally black except for the one sentence printed in white type. On the same page is the same sentence in Braille, and on the facing page is an impressed image. (For red, the image is part of a strawberry plant showing a leaf, 3 strawberries -- one la
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a unique picture book. In text, braille, and raised pictures, on a surface of pure black, it attempts to explain what colors are like to a blind person. Each color is explained in terms of other senses, like green smelling like grass that's just been cut and red tasting as sweet as watermelon. It is an interesting concept - how do you describe color to someone who cannot see them? This is a good attempt. ...more
Melissa Kelley-Windisch
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rll538
The Black Book of Colors is a brilliant children's picture book that allows children (and adults) of all ages to imagine colors from the perspective of someone who can't see. Menena Cottin's text includes descriptive words that engage a variety of senses, from taste to smell to touch to help the reader interpret what a variety of colors are. Raised black pictures against a black background beckon the reader to close their eyes and feel the page to get a sense of what each color feels like. Accom ...more
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. It is extremely hard to communicate through words alone what it must be like to live another person's life. This book helps children see words with their minds' eyes...allowing them to read words (with their eyes and hands) and "see" illustrations with their finger tips. It is an amazing achievement. ...more
Rachel Saum
The black book of colors is a picture book that talks about colors and from the perspective of someone who is blind. On each page there is a different color and how it is apart of nature, and describing it. Each page is black, and has a translation into braille above the words, then the other page has a texturized picture in black that shows water, strawberries or different ways to illustrate what the page says. I think this book brings awareness to blindness and how colors are so important to s ...more
Lauren Hall
This book was very different than what I have read so far. It was interesting to read about how a blind person hears about the things that I see and take for granted each day. This story would be good for any elementary age but I think you would have to explain the book and give some background on it before you put it into your classroom library. Because of this, I would recommend that this book be a read aloud.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Black Book of Colours is an extremely beautiful written and illustrated book.

Thomas tells us how he perceives the colours and the world around him, with his other senses other then sight.

This tale also has the the words in Braille.

The pictures are printed and raised, so that everyone can feel them.

Only the written word is in white, the rest is in black.
Sarah Brombley
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: inclusion, colour
Whilst the Braille could be a little more defined...the idea of this book is wonderful. Pages all in black with descriptions and raised pictures of how to describe colours. Special and thought provoking!
How do you describe colours without using colours? An attempt to describe the flavour and feel and smell of colours, with braille side by side with printed text. Also some tactile illustrations.
As a sighted adult with no young children, I'm not the target audience for this book, so it was only a very quick read, more a perusal.

It's important: the idea of bringing to children awareness and compassion for other children and adults in their lives who may experience the world in a way completely foreign from themselves.

Completely black pages, white font. Tangible embossed "colour" shapes and brief, sharply visual mental images are created by the simple yet effective words.

I could barely
Marissa Elera
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: imagination
What a brilliant way to challenge young readers to become more in tune with their senses and simultaneously include visually impaired readers in ways many materials do not. I was delighted by the book's Braille features and raised illustrations, and tested myself on figuring out what they were with my eyes closed.

Cottin brings in flavors and smells and a host of sensory experiences that illustrate color in ways I seldom see in children's books.

This would not function well as a storytime text, b
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
What a neat book. The Black Book of Colors can equally be enjoyed by both the sighted and visually impaired. The illustrations are done in raised, clear ink on completely black pages. The text appears in both print and Braille.

Sighted children can get some insight on how a blind person navigates his or her world. Colors are described as tastes, smells, and textures. A variety of interesting objects—strawberries, rain, feathers—are represented in the raised illustrations.
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
Found this at NCTE 2014 and could not resist. What a fabulous book about life w/ out sight and how those who cannot see do through metaphor and braille. Love it.

Of course, the book has a very personal connection for me because, as those who know me have heard repeatedly, my father lost his sight when I was a child.
Elizabeth Tabler
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those children's books that touch your heart. It doesn't matter if you are young or old, close your eyes and you will be transported because of the beauty of the words. This is truly a beautiful book. ...more
Feb 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Myself, but in the dark next time.
That did not feel like brown. AT ALL.
Destinee Sutton
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Amazing! Not only is this a great book for the visually impaired, it also teaches sighted kids (in a small way) what it's like to be blind. Includes the Braille alphabet. ...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.
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Breathtaking. Necessary. Important.
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
An unusual book, trying to describe colors in other ways than by eyesight, which was interesting. I enjoyed discovering the pictures by touch, it was a nice change.
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 0-paper
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s nice to have a successful book involving disability. And they at least made an effort to include Braille and raised images. It’s disappointing that it’s only designed for sighted people though. Why not make a board book instead that would allow you to have much higher Braille and raised pictures? You could even add actual textures for the feathers, etc. Also, they could have at least used a larger font so that it’s accessible for people wit ...more
Ben Truong
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Black Book of Colors is a children's picture book written by Menena Cottin and illustrated by Rosana Faría and translated by Elisa Amado, which is a book of colors targeted to the blind.

Cottin's text and Amando's Braille translation is rather simple and straightforward, yet rather complicated in concept. How does one describe the color red to a child that has never seen the color before or the objects that are red like strawberries or fire engines? Cottin resolves it by introducing colors me
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