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Evocative Reads

Sowmya Rajendran

By Sophie Benini Pietromarchi  (Translated from the original Italian by Guido Lagomarsino, edited by Gita Wolf)
Tara Books, Chennai, 2013, pp. 141, Rs. 700.00

By Amrita Das
Tara Books, Chennai, 2013, pp. 30, Rs. 400.00


The Colour Book is mesmerizing. It invites you into a here-now, gone-now world that you dipped into happily as a child but which may have evaded you as a greying adult. A heady mix of poetry and science, The Colour Book evokes long-buried memories of the colours you once discovered. When did you know yellow was yellow? What does green remind you of? For Pietromarchi, colour can be experienced with all senses, not just seen through the eyes. Colour isn’t static. It changes, it has character, it is a red dragon, a brown snail, a black lion (my favourite of the lot)…it has many moods, too. A blue dawn is peaceful, but how do you make it an Angry Blue Dawn?   Pietromarchi includes autobiographical elements in the narrative, encouraging her readers, too, to travel back in time to capture those moments of magic when they discovered how colours work. The colour dance, as she calls this journey, is bound to be a personal one and while the author makes suggestions on how you can go about it, she also makes it clear that she is only a guide. Moving forward, it will be the reader’s own dance, in the reader’s own choreography. There are activity suggestions, too, that an enthusiastic reader can take up—painting, cutting, pasting, exploring textures…’idea pouches’, as she calls them.   The book has the basics—what colours you should mix to get a certain shade, how do you lighten a certain colour or darken it, the names of the different hues of a colour…it’s all there. But its real success is in its quiet freeing of the mind, its ability to ignite the imagination and dream of ‘impossible colours’ as the author puts it. It’s hard to determine an age-group for this book and indeed, the publisher has not put a label on it. And rightly so, one feels. Will all children enjoy this book? No. Will all adults enjoy this book? No. But there will be children and adults who will enjoy it in different ways—for a very young child, it could simply be the lovely range of colours on the beautifully laid out pages. For a young child, it could be the imaginative characters that bring the book alive. For an older child, it could be the promise of many busy afternoons with paint, scissors, ...

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