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barnaby“Pooh-pooh on the blue,” Barnaby said.
“I’m Barnaby Bennett and I only wear red.”

Young children declare their emerging independence in many ways. They don’t cling to Mom and Dad so tightly. They insist on doing simple tasks by themselves. And they choose their favorite things—a huggable stuffed toy, a cherished blanket, or a bright, cheery color.

Come on, what kid doesn’t have a favorite color? Every morning my toddler asks to wear “pretty purple.” My Kindergartener’s closet is filled with “Shrek green.” So when we read Barnaby Bennett for the first time, we instantly understood Barnaby’s passion for pigment.

With a jaunty rhyme, author Hannah Rainforth dresses Barnaby Bennett in toe-to-head red. But there’s a problem: Barnaby wears the same red clothes every day. He loves them so much he won’t take them off. His shirt, shorts and socks get stinky. (Let’s just say we’re happy this isn’t a scratch-n-sniff book!)

Barnaby’s family tries to convince him to change colors. Dad thinks navy is nice. Sissy’s keen on green. And Bro? He’s mellow for yellow. But Barnaby is no chameleon!

Then Barnaby’s clever Aunt finds a creative way to break Barnaby of his crimson obsession. Does he become partial to pink? Go ga-ga over gold? Get smitten with silver? You’ll just have to read it to find out!

Ali Teo’s mixed-media illustrations combine quirky cartoon characters and photographed elements—blue jeans, fabric patterns, toys—resulting in something “real” to discover on every spread. The pages seem textured; alive. Even the words jump out with clever use of funky fonts. “Yanked” stretches across the page and “sludge” squirms.

Originally published in New Zealand, Star Bright Books recently brought this colorful Kiwi to the US. (Thanks, Star Bright!) This vibrant tale will knock your socks off, even if they aren’t red. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to jump into my cherry jammies and read Barnaby with the kids.

barnaby2Barnaby Bennett
Story by Hannah Rainforth
Illustrated by Ali Teo
Star Bright Books, November 2008
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