Review of Vanishing Colors, by Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen & Akin Duzakin

Vanishing Colors

by Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen & Akin Duzakin
translated by Kari Dickson

Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers, 2019. Originally published in Norway in 2017.
Starred Review
Review written July 5, 2019, from a library book

This book begins with a girl and her mother huddling in a broken building in a bombed-out city, all drawn in shades of gray and black, dark and sad.

“Tell me about the bird again,” I say quietly.
So she tells me about the bird.
The one that swoops down from the mountains as evening falls
and spreads its wings over our house
to protect us from danger.

The bird, a big, warm, comforting bird, comes while the girl’s mother is sleeping and sings a song and talks with the girl while bombs fall outside. The bird reminds her of the wonderful things that were there before. He helps her remember the colors – the bright colors of their lives before the war.

And especially, as the girl and her mother prepare to leave to a new place, the bird tells her that a rainbow makes a bridge across the sky and reminds us that there is always a way.

It’s all done very beautifully. As the bird brings back memories, one by one more colors show up in the pictures of the memories, beginning with a bright red dress the girl wore when she was with her father.

The rainbow at the end gives the reader hope that their lives will have colors again.

I wish that children didn’t have any need whatsoever to empathize with refugees of war. But given the world we actually have, this book has the right mix of reality plus hope.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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