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Between the Lines Hardcover – Picture Book, October 1, 2021
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With vibrant art that shifts to a colorless world and back again, this is a story of a community lost and rediscovered―and how one child’s actions can cascade into something that makes all the difference.
A young boy who loves his community notices that as neighbors stop interacting, the colors around them slowly fade. Then a thunderstorm sweeps away the last hints of bluebird skies and lemon-Popsicle days and leaves a rift in the road that doesn’t get fixed. As the adults around him move on, the boy dreams of the way life once was. He decides that he doesn’t want to live in a world without color, so he sets out to change things…
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“The illustrations…bring the atmosphere and ideas of the story to life. The depictions of both isolation and community in a dense urban neighborhood are poignant, especially after a year when COVID-19 forced people worldwide to forgo, and then to reinvent, community togetherness.” ―Booklist
“An impressively original, charmingly entertaining, and memorably illustrated picture book story for children ages 4-8, Between the Lines is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.” ―Midwest Book Review
About the Author
Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as Scooper and Dumper; Rosie: Stronger than Steel; This Book Is Gray; Brobarians; Helping Hospital; Rosco vs. the Baby; The Importance of Being 3; and the Wheels on the Go series. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives with her family in Peninsula, Ohio. Learn more about her at www.lindsaymward.com.
- Publisher : Two Lions (October 1, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 48 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1542026903
- ISBN-13 : 978-1542026901
- Reading age : 4 - 8 years
- Grade level : Preschool - 3
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 8.5 x 1 x 11 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #347,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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PLOT: Deceptively simple and yet multi-layered. The colors start disappearing from a city neighborhood. There is a storm in the night, and in the morning there is a huge crack down the middle of the neighborhood and everything is black and white. No more colors! For a year, no one does anything about this turn of events, until our hero takes matters into his own hands. He starts cleaning up. Everyone joins in. Then there is another storm. This time, everyone weathers it together. And come morning, the colors have all returned.
TEXT: Simple as a picture book should be, but emerging readers will need you to read it to them.
I read this book through three times. It wasn't until the third reading that I realized I should be focusing on the little white boy and his best friend the little black girl. They clearly just want to hang out together. But society has other plans; everyone isolates in their own little pods. The crack down the middle of the neighborhood separates them entirely, until the children take matters into their own hands and repair the damage so they can be together again.
But the thing is that the colors had started fading even before the storm. The most interesting lines in the book are the first:
“I was just a boy when the colors
were swept from our street.
The sounds became quieter.
Everyone was too busy
to notice we were fading.”
ARTWORK: Very pleasant. Very good. Very interesting.
- Intriguing story.
- Clever. Creative. Original.
- Complex. You'll be talking about this one.
- Lacks depiction of disability.
BEST READ BY: You to your child so you can talk about it. On my first read, I thought this book was best read by children in Louisiana who had just survived the latest hurricane. Hope after the storm. But as I reread it, I came to realize the book is more about hope in the context of racism.
BOTTOM LINE: This one is definitely worth your time.
CONS: The only way to truly enjoy this book on my Kindle Fire would have been to turn auto rotate off, and even then I think I would have run into problems getting pages to show. I liked the art but when the lettering that is suppose to be horizontal is vertical something is wrong. This happens on more than one page and probably intentional and a minor setback when reading a print book, but with Kindle you loose. There are multiple meanings for COLOR that could be plugged into this storyline, I have a feeling it is group cooperation, but not sure. Also the use of the RAIN Takes and Rain gives doesn't really wash well with me.
I think this story would be best in paper format but this electronic version has me wanting changes. I would recommend if possible to get a printed out copy of the book if you intend to share, that or turn off your auto-rotate on your Kindle. Didn't try this on desktop computer reader but suspect the same problem would prevail.
In this book, the colors suddenly vanish from a little boy's town. In a few poetic pages, the suffering that the town's residents go through is shown through that little boy's eyes. Finally, he decides to do something and work to clean up the damage. Because of his example, others join in, working to make their town a better place. And this effort, of everyone working together, helps to bring the colors back.
It's well written, with splashes of poetry such as, "Freshly cut green against bluebird skies. / And a sea of stars sprinkled on velvet purple nights."
It has a positive, nuanced message that working hard to make things better can actually make a difference.
What I liked: The artwork is lovely, a city neighborhood scene with cute residents of various colors and ethnicities. I really appreciate the diversity portrayed and the artwork was great. It brings back memories of looking at pictures like this as a kid and just studying the page, looking at all the details, things in the background, seeing what the people are doing, etc. To this day I love this kind of art, with so many things happening in a scene.
What I didn't like as much: The writing. The story concept is good and seems to be a bit of a metaphor; the neighborhood 'loses its color' and when the children initiate some community action, the adults join in and the result is neighbors talking to neighbors and the 'color' returns to the community. It's unclear to me what the 'color' metaphor is representing however, if it's community involvement in general, if it's a message about racial tensions, or something else. I like the concept, but to be honest, the actual wording is rather cryptic and adult-like. If I were reading this to a small child who couldn't yet read, I'd probably make up my own narration because I think the wording would go right over a small child's head and/or be rather dull. It's just sort of vague and even a bit ominous for a small kid. Then it ends very abruptly and I thought a page was missing because there's no real words of closure.
That being said, I would still recommend this book based on the artwork alone and because of the diversity represented. As a picture book it's adorable. I might even have a small child who can't yet read tell me the story of what THEY think it's about based on the pictures alone.
Top reviews from other countries
Can probably be read with children from 2 year old to pre-teens. A great conversation starter for the latter to talk about how they felt in the last year of lockdown.
Received from Amazon First Reads for an honest review.