Emily’s Blue Period
With summer reading, I have to admit that I’ve fallen behind in reading the Texas Bluebonnet Award nominees. Luckily for me, the next book up on my list was a picture book, which I was able to read the other day during lunch. I’m not sure what I expected going into this book, but I was definitely surprised by the depth of the topics covered.
Emily loves art and painting, and she loves the way it allows her to express herself. When her life gets turned upside down, she finds that the art that she has been painting just doesn’t match her feelings. With the help of her knowledge of art, and the encouragement of her art teacher, Emily finds the perfect the perfect medium to express herself and her mixed-up feelings.
What I Liked
While this book is a picture book, Daly doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. Emily’s family life is mixed up, and her dad no longer lives at home. The book explores not only the raw emotion of this change (Emily wants to paint only in blue to express her deep sadness), but also the complexity. When faced with the task of painting her home, Emily must confront the fact that she has not one, but two homes. Even Jack’s response to furniture shopping captures the tumultuous nature of this change. Throughout, Daly sprinkles artistic facts and information, allowing the reader a glimpse not only into Emily’s mind and heart, but also into the wider subject of art. Further, the simple illustrations subtly and expertly utilize color and dimension to further capture the emotions in the book, adding a secondary, powerful telling of the story.
What I Didn’t Like
I didn’t like the use of “chapters” in this book. The book reads like a picture book, and while the chapters indicate the different phases and periods of Emily’s artistic life, I found that they made the text more choppy and segmented than it needed to be. I think the story flowed enough on its own, without segments, and pausing throughout detracted from the overall message rather than adding to it. Although I can appreciate the intent in this layout, I would have preferred the book without it.
This book is simultaneously simple and complex. At the outset, it seems to be an exploration of artistic styles, but in truth, it is actually a complicated look into the heart and mind of a confused little girl in the midst of a life crisis. The reader simultaneously learns about grief, emotions, and healing while also gaining further appreciate of art history. The message of the book is powerful, yet written in such a way that you almost absorb it rather than consciously read it. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone willing to explore difficult topics, and not afraid to look at their own emotions in the process.