Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting my hands on a copy of this year’s picture book winner of the E.B. White Read Aloud Award, given by the Association of Booksellers for Children. One, by Kathryn Otoshi (What Emily Saw) is as simple a picture book as it is profound.
From the moment you look at the book cover and read the first page, you know you’re about to experience something special. The concept, a story about bullying that uses splotches of color and numbers to speak of the power of one person to initiate change, is highly original, and its execution, flawless. When One stands up to Red, who is bullying Blue, all the other colors who felt for Blue but had been afraid to speak up, follow his lead and turn into numbers who “count.” In the process, Red isn’t ostracized, but told by One that he, too, can count. “Everyone counts!” they all shout.
My seven year-old was clearly touched by the book’s message of inclusion. She said: “It was nice of them to say that. I bet nobody had ever been nice to Red before.” So young and so wise… I have a feeling we will be gifting this book to friends and telling one and all about it.
Read Kathryn Otoshi’s interview at Character Counts, where she talks about what inspired the book. And for more, check out Alison Morris’ post at the Shelftalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog, written when the book came out, last year.