True Colors

Image of True Colors
Release Date: 
June 15, 2021
Princeton Architectural Press (Children's Books)
Reviewed by: 

Two friends, a dog and a kite, walk into a park one fine summer day and what do they see? A tree, of course. But the trouble is, this tree’s canopy is white. Isn’t it supposed to be green? Herein lies the trouble, the mystery, in True Colors, a simple picture book with fun illustrations and a wonky story.

The mix-up with the tree color leads the narrator to conclude that the book is defective and that the illustrator simply forgot to apply the appropriate color to the tree. The illustrator in this story is an otherworldly guy in a space suit made out of colored circles as arms and legs, and a blue bubble as a helmet; a downright quirky character. He is drawn standing on an extended platform, reaching overhead with scissors in one hand and a hose in another trying to connect to the white of the tree. It is not entirely clear what he is up to. Meanwhile, a sea of eyeballs is watching from the other side of the page spread.

But hold everything. The story decides to start over, and we never encounter the illustrator again. As interesting as he is, the reader is not meant to connect here.

Two friends, a dog and a kite, walk into a park one fine summer day and what do they see? A cloud, of course. But the trouble is, this could is green. Again the illustrator is blamed, this time by a team of scientists who try to investigate what is going on with the book. Again, it is not clear what these scientists are actually doing.

But hold everything. The story decides to start over yet again. Now the entire town is involved, questioning how this unnatural situation (green cloud, white tree) could possibly be happening. No one lends answers, only questions. It seems as though the tree and the cloud are being mischievous and have traded places.

A random portly town tailor (a tailor?) is called upon to enter the scene. Positioned on a mega-ladder, he declares with a megaphone that this nonsense is over and tree and cloud must resolve this situation immediately. In vain, he is ignored, and the two friends carry on with their imaginations in charge; white tree stays intact.

The two ways to view this book are either delightfully fun and whimsical, or downright confusing and disjointed. The bright and colorful artwork is certainly unique, but the story is frustrating and hard to follow. The truth about these colors is that there is no rhyme or reason, things are just a little bit off through and through. The same goes for the book: great art but wish there were more to it.