Books Elma Family Kitty what we're reading

The Black Book of Colours {what we’re reading}


I’m not sure that I would describe this week’s book as a book that I picked up and fell wholeheartedly and unreservedly in love with, but it is a book that I find fascinating and intriguing in equal measure.

It’s also nye on impossible to photograph which of course makes it a sure fire winner; well I always like a challenge.

Because The Black Book of Colours is what it says it is: black. All the way through. It’s a book of colours without a colour in sight.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But it is also a book packed full of colour, just in a way that uses senses other than your eyes.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

They’re how the colours appear to Thomas, he hears them and smells them and touches them and tastes them. He just doesn’t see them.

Red is “sour like unripe strawberries”, “sweet as watermelon” and hurts when you find it on a scraped knee. Blue is the sky when kites are flying and you can feel the sun on your head, but when the rain pours down then it’s white.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

All of the descriptions are very evocative, reading it you know exactly what shade of blue he sees for the sky, or the precise green of a freshly mown lawn, though my favourite has to be the description of black;

“as soft as silk when his mother hugs him and her hair falls in his face.”

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And to go with the words every image, including the ones on the covers are embossed in black, so that as you read you can trace your fingers across the leaves or feathers or strawberries, to find the images that make up the rainbow or just the falling rain.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And finally above all of the written words are those same words spelled out in braille.  I’m fascinated by braille, I’ve a fondness for any kind of code or a language that uses different characters which would explain both the ancient greek GCSE and the fact that I taught myself to write in viking runes when I was in my early teens (a skill sadly long since departed from my memory). Braille just seems so delicate and intricate; I can run my fingers over the dots but I really struggle to tell one letter apart from the others without individually counting the dots, or having a quick peek.

There’s a braille alphabet in the back of the book too which is a big help in trying to figure it out, and has been fun for the girls to trace with their fingers.

I’m sure that just as reading the written word gets easier and easier the more you do it, if you had to learn to read in braille the repeated practice would make you a lot faster but I’m still wildly impressed by anyone who can master it.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But perhaps that thing I like the most about this book is that it just is; it doesn’t come with a little explanation, or a moral, or a lesson plan, or anything else, it simply presents the world as it appears to its narrator and lets you explore it at whatever level you choose.  I’ve tried to resist the temptation to explain it to Kitty, just answer her questions as they come, and enjoy the fact that it is making her think.


Space for the Butterflies: What We're Reading

If you have a favourite, or just something fun your little or not so little ones have enjoyed reading lately please do join us.  The linky is always open for the whole week so there’s plenty of time. And so, without further ado, it’s over to you to tell me what we should be reading!

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  • sustainablemum 18/11/2014 at 11:18 am

    What an amazing book! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Carie 20/11/2014 at 11:31 pm

      You’re welcome!!

  • Molly 18/11/2014 at 11:36 am

    What a beautiful and unusual book. Definitely going to look out for this one for Christmas!

    • Carie 20/11/2014 at 11:30 pm

      Thank you – I hope you enjoy it!

  • Claire @ Clarina's Contemplations 18/11/2014 at 2:25 pm

    This looks utterly fascinating! Will have to investigate!

    • Carie 20/11/2014 at 11:28 pm

      Do, I think your two would be rather intrigued by it!

  • Vickie 18/11/2014 at 2:34 pm

    What a very unusal book. I have to admit it’s one I would probably have bypassed in the bookshop, as we tend to go for books in a riot of colours, but actually I think this would be a great one for Bubs when she’s nearer Kitty’s age.

    • Carie 20/11/2014 at 11:28 pm

      I think she’d really enjoy it, just because it is that bit different!

  • preeta samarasan 18/11/2014 at 3:04 pm

    This sounds amazing, actually — a fabulous book to develop empathy. I’m also fascinated by the phenomenon of synesthaesia, which I know isn’t exactly what the book is about, but I think it could open a child’s mind to the possibility/idea (I don’t actually think true synesthaesia can be developed or taught, I think one is born with it, but at the same time, some people, e.g. poets, think more synesthetically, don’t they?).

    • Carie 20/11/2014 at 11:28 pm

      I love synesthaesia – there was a tv documentary about it a while ago and I was fascinated by how they number crunched by physically moving around the space. My memory is very visual and it was as if they’d taken that and put it on steroids!!

  • Jess @ 18/11/2014 at 3:11 pm

    What an interesting book – I never would have thought to pick something such as this up. Exploring sensory deprivation in this way is sure to develop empathy. Thanks for hosting! Jess x

    • Carie 20/11/2014 at 11:26 pm

      Kitty found it in the library so I have to give her credit for this one!!

  • Katie @mummydaddyme 18/11/2014 at 3:52 pm

    Wow what an interesting and intriguing book- I think I may have to have a look out for this one. x

    • Carie 20/11/2014 at 11:25 pm

      It really stands out on our shelves against the riot of colour from the rest of them and it’s one I keep coming back to just to play with!

  • sally 19/11/2014 at 12:54 am

    What an interesting book, I really like the premise behind this one.

    • Carie 20/11/2014 at 11:24 pm

      It’s quite fascinating isn’t it!