KIRKUS REVIEW: In a style resembling a creation myth, Guertin describes how animals got their colors. A quasi-biblical downpour concludes with a shimmering rainbow, which imparts color to all the animals in its path. The language is poetic: “The fish in the ocean waters glinted silver, violet, and aquamarine. The yellow duck paddled in the sapphire blue of the pond. And the red fox scurried through the amber forest.” Great Bird, ruler of the bird kingdom, begs Rainbow to color him, and “with one swift kiss, she turned Great Bird from gray to shimmering gold.” All the other birds jostle to be colored by the rainbow. One by one, Parrot, Cardinal, Blue Jay, Canary, and all the other birds are appropriately colored. As the colors begin to run out, Great Bird notices a small Gouldian finch (a rare Australian finch) who is still uncolored. It turns out the finch was too polite and waited too long, until the colors had been given to the more acquisitive fowl. Rainbow’s solution? With their agreement, she gathers a splash of color from each of the birds, and Gouldian Finch is magically transfored into his true rainbow-colored splendor. Pérez García adopts a folk-art style to complement the story, which is based on a Belgian folk tale, flat perspectives and stylized shapes evoking European decorative motifs. An imaginative chromatic fantasy with an altruistic conclusion. (Picture book. 4-8)
School Library Journal Ann PreS-Gr 1—Guertin answers an age-old question in this retelling of a Belgian folktale. The story opens on a world filled with only grays, browns, and blacks until a great rain blankets the earth and results in a beautiful rainbow. Guertin personifies the rainbow, who gives out the colors to the land, river, and animals. All of the birds receive their colors, except for one tiny finch. Fearing there will be none left, the little bird begins to cry—but much to her amazement, the rainbow rewards her patience and splashes her with all the colors of the rainbow. And forever more, the Gouldian finch, also known as the rainbow finch, is deemed the most beautiful bird in the world. Readers will pore over García's vibrant and lush illustrations. The book's design further enhances the storybook feel as the text is often nicely boxed and placed to the side, allowing the artwork to shine. VERDICT A very simple but well-constructed retelling and a nice addition to folk and fairy tale collections.—Erin Olsen, The Brearley School, NY School Library Journal
Shelf Awareness emarie RiIn How the Finch Got His Colors, author Annemarie Riley Guertin and illustrator Helena Pérez García bring a Flemish legend to gloriously colorful life.
The folk tale tells how the Gouldian finch, native to Northern Australia and New Guinea, gained its spectacularly vibrant feathers. "Many years ago," Guertin's interpretation begins, "the Earth lay stark and gray. The animals... were the colors of dirt, clay, and stone." García's double-page spread features monochromatic examples of familiar animals--lions, giraffes, horses--depicted on rolling gray hills. "To prepare Earth for its awakening, a great rain fell upon the land." When the skies cleared, there was a rainbow. "As Rainbow shimmered down, she turned everything in her path into bright, bold colors": García's gray landscape is cut down the center by a swath of vibrant greens, pinks, reds, as Rainbow sets the world alight.
Great Bird tells the birds to line up and wait their turn for color. But all of the birds push to the front, "worried that all of Rainbow's colors [will] be taken." Rainbow begins to "grow weary from her hard work" and, as her colors fade to nothing, Great Bird notices that the tiny finch is still gray. Finch, who has waited patiently for his turn, begins to cry. Ashamed, all of the birds come together and, with the help of Rainbow's kiss, donate a little bit of their color to the tiny bird, giving him feathers "every color of the rainbow."
Featuring "Fun Facts," discussion questions and a bibliography, debut author Guertin's text gives the fable the gentle cadence of a bedtime story while García's brilliantly stylized illustrations give a nod to the fable's European roots. How the Finch Got His Colors is an uplifting and riotously colorful origin myth. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editorley Guertin@MrsGuertin
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