Sonderbooks Book Review of

Emily's Blue Period

by Cathleen Daly

illustrations by Lisa Brown

Emily's Blue Period

by Cathleen Daly
illustrations by Lisa Brown

Review posted November 16, 2014.
A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2014. 56 pages.
Starred Review.

At first, I didn’t think I’d review this book. As a book about art, it could be seen as simplistic, and same as a book about kids whose parents are divorced. But as a story – a story about one particular girl, who happens to love art and happens to have recently divorced parents – it worms its way into my heart every time I read it.

The format is a cross between picture book and chapter book. The pages are a bit larger than most chapter books, and the pictures take up more room on each page than the words, but there are indeed five short chapters, and no effort is given to making the text particularly easy to read.

Emily wants to be an artist, and in school she’s learning about Pablo Picasso. First, she learns about how Picasso liked to mix things up. Emily likes to mix things up, too. However:

Lately, Emily’s family is mixed up.
She doesn’t like this.
Emily’s dad is no longer where he belongs.
Suddenly, he lives in his own little cube.

The story shows Emily and her little brother Jack going shopping with Dad to pick out furniture for his new home. Emily doesn’t like any of it, and Jack ends up throwing a fit. This leads Emily into her Blue Period.

I like the way Emily’s Blue Period is understated. The author doesn’t even mention why Emily’s sad, just that she’s sad. She doesn’t show any of her art from that period, though in that chapter the illustrations themselves are mainly blue. And as far as comfort, we just have:

Emily nuzzles her head into the spot under her mother’s arm where it fits just like a puzzle piece. Emily’s Blue Period lasts quite some time.

In the next chapter, the final one, it’s making a collage of “Home” that pulls Emily out of her Blue Period.

This is a book that takes itself seriously about a girl who takes herself seriously. And it’s all simply right.