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They Say Blue

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,583 ratings  ·  395 reviews
Caldecott and Printz Honor-winning illustrator Jillian Tamaki brings us a poetic exploration of colour and nature from a young child’s point of view. They Say Blue follows a young girl as she contemplates colours in the known and the unknown, in the immediate world and the world beyond what she can see. The sea looks blue, yet water cupped in her hands is as clear as glass ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published March 1st 2018 by Groundwood Books
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3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,583 ratings  ·  395 reviews

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May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books where adult me and child me would have been at opposite ends of the reviewing spectrum. Adult me thinks that this book is simply beautiful. As the main character ponders different colours and imagines herself as a tree weathering the seasons I felt this lovely sense of tranquility.

As she and her mother gaze out her bedroom window and wonder what the crows are thinking when they see them I paused and thought about all of the native birds I feed. I often wonder myself w
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Hilary by: Found in the library
3.5 stars. I didn't think I'd like this from the cover, the girl is drawn in a strange way, out of proportion and clumsy but the inside is a lot better. I really liked the illustrations and the quiet poetic text. A nice journey through colours and seasons.
David Schaafsma
Each year my family reads all the Goodreads-award-nominated picture books, and we have been doing this for years. Everyone rates each book and adds a comment and it may (or may not) affect my overall rating. This is book #4 of 2018.

Lyra (11): 3.5 stars. I like the color and how you can see what they are talking about. Beautiful book.

Hank (12): 1.5 stars. Not good.

Harry (13): 4 stars. I love the art and it's very poetic.

Jenn (family friend): 5 stars. I love Jillian Tamaki's art work! Her illustr
What a beautiful book about color. “They say blue is the color of the sky … which is true today!” That’s how the book starts out. Lovely. yet, when you put water in your hands, it looks clear. I love this story. In Chinese culture, for the longest time, they didn’t have the color blue. They have Qing, a blue green. In class we asked about the sea and sky being blue and in the Chinese mind, we were told, the sky and water changed color, so how can you say it is one color. How can you can it’s blu ...more
M. Lauritano
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
In a deliberate shift towards a child friendly art style, Jillian Tamaki has made a book filled with sensuous illustrations structured by a progression of colors. Unfortunately, the text doesn’t live up to her artistic prowess. It is absent of anything like a story, which might not have been a problem if the book had been subtitled “a poem” or if she had completely abandoned the notion of a consistent character that suggests a narrative trajectory. Instead, readers are left to wade through a ser ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Incoherent, if you ask me or my son.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
Am I missing something?? The art is beautiful. The beginning was wonderful, but the text and story (if you can call it that) are terrible! I thought it was unfocused, disjointed and too long.

The beginning starts out so nicely: blue sky, blue water...except when you look at water in your hand! Then it's clear and it sparkles in the sun! This is how the rest of it goes: A field looks like an ocean. I wonder if I could sail on it. Storm, nevermind. It's cold. Now it's warm. I'm a tree. It's summer
3.5 stars. Kind of sweet and meditative, as a young girl sees colours all around her. Felt a little light, and left me wanting a little more out of this little book.
Now for basically a concept book on colours, nature and the seasons, Jillian Tanaki's They Say Blue is in many ways aesthetically magical (and especially at the beginning of They Say Blue, the interplay between Tanaki's lyrical free verse poetry and her accompanying illustrations is lyrically sweet, enchanting, almost song-like in scope and feel). However (and for me personally), there is just a bit too much of a visual emphasis on the little girl, on the young narrator of They Say Blue, and wit ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Beautiful Picture-Books About the Seasons and/or Colors
Author/illustrator Jillian Tamaki, best known for her graphic novels, makes her picture-book debut with They Say Blue, a lovely, poetic examination of colors and seasons. A young girl observes and interacts with the natural world around her, appreciating the blue of sky and sea, the gold of grass, and the gray of rainstorms. Eventually, she sprouts into a tree - at least, in her dreams - and experiences the seasons of the year...

I found They Say Blue immensely appealing, from a visual perspectiv
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh, this is so beautiful. Yes, as reviewed, the narrative is less a narrative and more contemplative, but the sounds of the words combined with the art is actually breathtaking. It's full of movement, yet at the same time still and calming. This is so gorgeous.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here’s your first 2019 Caldecott contender.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't see this as a concept book, but rather as philosophy, as a book that belongs on the same shelf as Zen Shorts. It's an ode to all that colors can mean to an observant, imaginative child.

I don't really have much to say about it... I think it either clicks with a reader or doesn't. I'd give it 4.5 stars.
Feb 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Winning a Caldecott award has launched the career of numerous illustrators, and Jillian Tamaki's popularity rose after a graphic novel she illustrated, This One Summer, earned a Caldecott Honor in 2015. The artwork for They Say Blue is just as impressive, painting our world in fiery reds and lively greens, serene blues and splendorous golds, a spectacular show of nature's beauty. The paintings would be praiseworthy even without a story.

Is the sky blue? Some days it is. The ocean appears blue mu
Elizabeth A
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: art, kids-ya, 2019
I picked up several picture books from the library recently, and while I miss reading them with little ones, I still enjoy a brief dip into this type of book.

This one is about a child and her exploration of colors and the natural world. I didn't find the text compelling, but the art is lovely. 2 stars for the text, and 4 stars for the art, is how I arrived at my rating.
Destinee Sutton
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
The art is five stars. Gorgeous. On the first few reads, though, the story left me like huh? I thought it was a story about colors, about seasons, which is what I expected. But then it was about a girl turning into a tree and the ending didn't click for me.

On the surface, this is hardly a story at all (to be fair, a great many picture books don't really have stories -- just sequences). It took me several reads before I was like oh damn I think I get it maybe. They say blue is the color of the s
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just read this book to a class of kindergarten kids and it was a true winner. First of all the art is gorgeous - so cool to see the range that Tamaki has after enjoying some of her older works like This One Summer. Also the connections to key concepts for younger kids were perfect - colors and seasons and family. The pictures are rich and the text is sparse which keeps the book moving nicely. A lovely read for the young ones.
Kelly Carey
Apr 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
I was confused by the text -- first it is a child exploring her world using color as a touchpoint - but then does the child become a tree? Then we travel through the seasons with a tree and then the child and tree intersect with ugly black crows that convey a mood so different from the beautiful ocean blue scenes in the opening pages. I had a hard time with this book -- :(
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this one more than words can say. To so fully capture the magic of both colours and childhood? Jillian, you're amazing.
Shelle Perry
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Breathtaking is the only way to describe this book. Intricately detailed, beautifully colored artwork takes the reader through a journey of colors as a little girl explores her world and wonders at how the colors fit into it. Blue is the color of the ocean, yet up close the ocean is clear. The fields of grass look like a golden ocean but it is still only grass. Color heralds the change of seasons, brightly colored flowers in the spring, green leaves in the summer, gold and red leaves that fall i ...more
Jordan Henrichs
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book. From illustrations to text, through and through. My only complaint is a really, really picky one... the whole voice/concept of the text confused me. Who is "they?" Is there any question that the items illustrated are the colors the author includes? The whole, "they say" thread throughout the book seems to imply that the narrator sees something different than others do, but she doesn't. She looks at the sea and sees blue. She knows her blood is red. Etc, etc, etc. I just ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A gorgeously illustrated picture book contemplating the colors of the natural world.

A beautiful use of the rainbow of colors to tell a story full of wonder and stunning imagery as seen through the eyes of a young girl. I loved how she managed to convey the change in time and a change of emotions in various parts of the book.

This is definitely worth reading and rereading or just admiring the art.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gorgeous book. Wow. But it was a little too broad- a lack of focus (colors, seasons, feelings, the character becoming a tree for four spreads, existential much here!) and a jumpy narrative muddy it up too much or me. A tighter focus would have made it shine. Still, a lovely book with a lot to say.
There's no storyline to this book but I'm assuming its goal is to teach kids different colours. Although this book doesn't have a plot (and we never find out the little girl's name) it incorporates colours into the text and illustrations beautifully. Bonus star for the gorgeous artwork.
Nancy Kotkin
Musings on color and seasons. Text is lyrical but not a story in the traditional sense. Meanders as a child often does, and this adds to the meditative quality, but does make it more difficult to follow. Noteworthy acrylic paintings are full of texture and movement.
The illustrations are bright and vivid. However, the story just left me wanting more details. I understand that the girl in the story is curious, but I feel like young readers might not get that. The story ended abruptly.
Ms. B
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, picture
The illustrations were fabulous; the story was a little tough for me to follow. I am curious what children will think of it.
Nadine Jones
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s
This had so much potential, but it just didn't work. The art is dreamy and beautiful, but there is no flow to the story and the words have no rhythm at all. This feels like pages from the artist's idea book, randomly stitched together, and accidentally shipped to the printer before the proper words could be added.

Very long review because I loved the art so much but I was so disappointed by the book.

First we open with a girl in her bathing suit at the beach, and it talks about how things that are
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
The artwork is excellent. Some of it reminded me of Calvin and Hobbes. The story is fantastical, yet like Maurice Sendak's In The Night Kitchen, I can imagine children accepting it as natural and loving the transformations.
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Jillian Tamaki is a cartoonist and illustrator living in Toronto. A professional artist since 2003, she has worked for publications around the world and taught extensively in New York at the undergraduate and graduate level. She is the co-creator, with her cousin Mariko Tamaki, of Skim and This One Summer, the latter of which won a Caldecott Honor in 2015. She is the
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