Reviews for They Say Blue

School Library Journal
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PreS-Gr 1-Tamaki's picture book debut explores color and the seasons in a lyrical, philosophical way that is rooted in a child's sensibilities. A young girl contemplates things most assume as hard truths. "They say blue is the color of the sky..Which is true today! They say the sea is blue, too." But then she points out that it looks blue, but when she holds it in her hands "it's clear as glass." Then she wonders is a blue whale blue? She hasn't seen one. In a nonlinear, vignette fashion, seasons change as do feelings of frustration to wonder, capturing a child's imagination, mindfulness, and inquiry. Each unexpected turn from thought to thought will allow opportunities for rich discussion when using the book with children. Large swathes of acrylic paint on top of inked illustrations bring energy, color, and light to each sensitively rendered moment. Tamaki uses a motif of the young girl with her arms raised throughout, radiant with joy whether she is playing in the ocean, shedding winter clothes, or imagining that she is the tree she watches outside her bedroom window. The book ends with an intimate moment of her mother waking her in the morning, and as her mother braids her hair, they watch crows and wonder together what they are thinking. VERDICT Attuned to a child's psychology and patterns of -critical thinking, this visually stunning work is a must-purchase for libraries.-Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

A girl weighs what she's been told about the world against what she observes and knows, leading to more questions and contemplations. Working in lush, watery acrylics, Tamaki (This One Summer) initially paints the girl on a windy beach. She admits that the sky and sea look blue at the moment: "But when I hold the water in my hands, it's as clear as glass." Just because something is visible doesn't mean it's true, the girl recognizes, and there's truth in the invisible, too ("I don't need to crack an egg to know it holds an orange yolk inside"). Color and nature-red blood, golden fields, a purple flower-serve as a through line in a story that takes a surreal leap when the girl throws off her winter layers, stretches, and grows into a tree, continuing her observations as the seasons pass. In a quiet conclusion, the girl (human once again) and her mother watch crows soar against a dawn sky that's far from blue. Thinking, imagining, noticing-these, Tamaki suggests, are the tools we have to understand our world. Ages 5-7. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* There's something ineffable about Caldecott Honor Book illustrator Tamaki's debut picture book, but that might be precisely the point. In swirly washes of aqueous color, laid down in thick, textural brushstrokes, and evocative figures sketched in fine lines of black ink, a young girl contemplates the world around her, with special attention to color, mood, and mutability. She notices the color of the sky and the ocean, and how they're different from water in her hand. She notes how she knows some colors egg yolks, blood without having to see them. Tamaki sends her young protagonist on a happy flight of fancy while she observes a field of yellow grass, but that imaginative journey is quashed by the gray, rainy sky matching her grumpy mood. There's not a structured narrative or lesson per se, but Tamaki nevertheless latches onto something particularly childlike in her depiction of the constant motion of seasons, feelings, what words mean, and the world at large. The free-associative nature of the child narrator's interaction with her surroundings seems utterly familiar, and approaching it with observational, sensory language lands it firmly in territory children can relate to. This poetic, off-kilter little book has enigmatic power, and observant children will likely be enchanted.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2018 Booklist