Book review from Tokyo – If ever we needed a simple children’s story about colours, Arree Chung’s Mixed (Henry Holt, 2018; Macmillan Children’s Books, 2018) probably fits the bill.
This brilliantly simple picture book for 3-5 year-olds begins with three colours – red, yellow, and blue. Reds were loud, yellows were bright, and blues were cool. Then one day reds started proclaiming they were the best because they were loudest. The yellows reacted, saying they were the brightest and best. And the blues just couldn’t care less about the brooha. The city quickly became segregated by colour.
But when a yellow took a liking to a blue, they mixed and created green. More colours mixed, creating an entire spectrum of colours in a multi-coloured city. And soon a new harmonious co-existence formed. Not perfect, but still home.
That last sentence signs off the book. The initial “harmony” began falling apart with a single loudmouth. So simple, but so very divisive. But when some colours became naturally attracted to their mutual differences, they came together and eventually built a new co-existence to call home.
What if the colours didn’t, or couldn’t, mix? Imagine a world of just different shades of red? How stuntedly bland is that?
Mixing creates in-betweeners that fill the gaps in the spectrum, making it more complete, more seamlessly enjoined. The spectrum has a place for every colour, even for the new ones yet to be formed.
Let’s take it one step further. Mix. Go out there. Reach out to other people. Hear them. And we will see the beauty, or not, of what we are part of.
It’s such a simple story, isn’t it?
Title: Mixed by Arree Chung
Publisher: Henry Holt, 2018; Macmillan Children’s Books, 2018