Hard to believe that in the four months Lou and I have been doing our weekly ‘When We Were Little’ posts, we haven’t yet canvassed a Golden Book. We have some catching up to do!
One of my favourite Golden Books, and the one that probably has the strongest memories for me, is The Colour Kittens. It must have been given to me very early in my life, as the inscription on the front page reads ‘This book belongs to Katherine’, so it was written before my name was always shortened – which is for as long as I can remember…
The Colour Kittens is written by Margaret Wise Brown – author of Goodnight Moon. It’s interesting that one of the kittens is named ‘Hush’, which is a word that is also present and distinctive for me in Goodnight Moon (And a quiet old lady whispering ‘hush’!). Also similarly, the text has a lovely lilting rhythm.
Drifting in and out of rhyming verse, the words are very soothing:
Green as cats’ eyes,
Green as grass
By streams of water
Green as glass
The story follows Hush and Brush, who love to mix colours of paints, but don’t know how to make green. It is a lovely introduction to the idea of mixing colours – as we discover how the kittens make pink and orange and purple and – finally – green.
The illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen do every justice to the underlying theme. Their style is very distinctive, stylised, and the use of colour is particularly stunning. Crisp shapes and unusual contrasts help to give the illustrations an amazing vibrancy. I find it amazing that the reproduction of the colours can be so vibrant, on the lightweight pages of a production that was made to be affordable to everyone.
The artwork of this book has, I’ve learnt, been inspiring for designers and artists. I read recently somewhere, I can’t find the link at the moment, about one particular designer’s continuing association of a hue of purple as ‘Color Kitten Purple’. A fitting tribute to the influence of a humble little Golden Book.