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The World of Color (or Colour)

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
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on Friday, 30 January 2009 in Uncategorized

Recently I received, from their teacher, a photograph of eighth graders in Edmonton, Alberta, dressed in rainbow colors (or colours, as they spell it in Canada) after reading "The GIver" and being affected by the black-and-whiteness of it.

Edmonton
so I have been thinking about color (which I am going to spell the American way) a lot, and especially because yesterday I received an email from an editor asking me to describe (for the illustrator) more detail about a particular shirt I had when I was eight or so. (More later, closer to its release time, about that particular book)

I remembered the shirt, and could see it in my mind, as if I were wearing it and looking down at myself. It was plaid, and I could see each color in it, and the way they crossed each other, making new colors. So tough to describe, though! The red in it was not an apple-for-the-teacher red, but a pinky corally red; and the blue was not navy blue, but a more medium shade; where the two colors combined, it was a muted lavender.

All of my early family photographs were black and white, of course, dating as they did from the forties, and coming as they did from my own father's darkroom.  And yet again and again, looking at myself at age 3 or 4 or 5, I remember each article of clothing and its color.  My sister had a dress when she was six---so I would have been three---which I envied for its very full skirt, which opened around her like a flower bursting into bloom when she twirled; but also for its color, a red that was not "real" red but more a creamy, pink-infused, Campbell's tomato soup (after you added milk) red.

I have always loved color, and I have missed the days when there used to be dime stores which sold spoools of thread arranged in tiers in the sewing section. As a child, while my pals went off to check out the ---whatever; comic books or candy---I would stand in front of those spools, mesmerized by the rows of graduated colors. Later I experienced the same thing leafing through catalogues with a lot of towels stacked by color; and also the ads for pashmina scarves that were popular for a time. I stared at them a long time, choosng my favorite, usually a rich plum or a pale sunrise yellow.  I never bought them, any more than I bought (I think the brand was called Coates and Clark) thread when I was a child in the dimestore, clutching the coins of my weekly allowance.  But I relished the seeing.

Don't get me started on hardware store paint chip displays. Or yarn shops!

It was very hard to keep color from seeping into the manuscript of "The Giver" when I was writing it.

Incidentally, there is a rock band named "Jonas Sees in Color"---yes, its name came about because of band members' affection for "The Giver."  If you google their name you can watch them perform.

Thank you, Headway School in Edmonton, for reminding me of the celebration of color.  Ah, colour.

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Comments

Guest
Krista Monday, 29 November 1999

I'm glad you're having a wonderful time. Are your grandson's keeping a journal of their trip with you? -Monopoly money-I'm going to remember that on our next family vacation.
We're surprising our 11 year old with an airplane ride over Sanibel Island. It's a surprise.

Guest
Krista Monday, 29 November 1999

Okay, now I know why I don't write at night. We're surprising...it's a surprise...lovely.

Guest
Lori Lusk Monday, 29 November 1999

Not only does your writing inspire me but you as a person! I hope when my son has children I can be half the grandma you are! Thank you for sharing pieces of your life with us! They are such treats.

Guest
anne Monday, 29 November 1999

A child's perceptions are often far different than those of the adults in their company. When my uncle took my cousin and me to NYC at the age of 8 or 9, he had the taxi in which we were riding take us to the waterfront so that we could see the Queen Mary at dock. Instead of being "wowed" by the ship, we stared at the taxi meter, saying "Look, Uncle Fletcher! Another nickel!"

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