I was just given the opportunity to read through the mock-up of Theresa Moleski’s Charlie-Ray’s New Colors, a picture book aimed at early readers. Charlie-Ray, Skyler, and their friends are just like elementary school children, wanting what they can’t have, teasing each other, and trying to solve problems without all of the understanding necessary to do so. But Charlie-Ray and Skyler aren’t children: Charlie-Ray is the Sun and Skyler is (not surprisingly) the Sky. While the text never states this, the pictures make it unambiguous to readers, who will nonetheless immediately recognize themselves in the story.
The story is simple and effective. Charlie-Ray wants to be a different colour than yellow, but doesn’t know how she can. She tries a few things, which fail, and she is sad. Worse, the clouds—especially the storm clouds—tease her for trying. In the end, her hurt and anger cause her to hold her breath in frustration. Her face turns read, and the colour is reflected back on the clouds in a glorious sunset. She is chagrined at her behaviour, but the clouds are joyous over their new, beautiful shades.
Moleski’s story is a lovely blend of word and picture: the words tell the plot; the colourful illustrations express the characters’ emotions. Young readers will warm to the new colours of Moleski’s sun.