#DecolonizeReading2023 Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Decolonial Lens Of The History Of The Color “Blue”

"A History Of The Color As Deep As The Sea And As Wide As The Sky" - Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond and Daniel Minter

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual.

This year, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized
  5. Translated or international literature

Blue: A History Of The Color As Deep As The Sea And As Wide As The Sky (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond Illustrated by Daniel Minter
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (2022) ISBN: 9781984894366 (ISBN10: 1984894366) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

The first time I learned about how rare, thereby precious, the color blue is – was when I read Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue (Amazon | Book Depository) – which by the way is where the name of our website GatheringBooks came from – but that’s a story for another day.

The book creators traced the history of blue as far back as 4500 BC in Afghanistan when the color could only be obtained from blue rocks called lapis lazuli; then later on, the shade of rare blue was discovered from certain snails in the “shores of the Mediterranean, Central America, Mexico, and Japan.”

Given its scarcity, it was imbued with divinity and special powers; and to wield and exercise such power, workers are needed – which during the ancient times meant slaves.

In this evil side of the trade for blue, leaders and landowners around the world abused or enslaved countless people just so they grow more indigo.

What I appreciate the most about the narrative is its direct, unvarnished declaration of facts that drive home the message without pontification, because the truth already carries its own weight that is undeniable. Not to mention Daniel Minter’s art that is absolutely inspired, it’s breathtaking.

I especially love the associations made between the color and the musical genre that it inspired: “the blues, originally known for its aching words and melodies.” There is also a very detailed Afterword and timeline that teachers/educators/parents can take advantage of in enriching discussions about this color that is both holy and exploitative, ubiquitous and scarce all at once. I suspect that this book will receive all the awards this year.

For more Nonfiction goodness connected to the color blue, check out Fiona Robinson’s Bluest of Blues (see Fats’ review here) and Jenni Desmond’s The Blue Whale (see my review here).

The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs by Fiona Robinson (Amazon | Book Depository)

IMG_8441

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond (Amazon | Book Depository)


#DecolonizeReading2023 Update: 8 out of target 100

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