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Hello, Red Fox
by Eric Carle
ISBN 068984431X / 9780689844317 / 0-689-84431-X
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Goethe (1749-1832) is celebrated as a great German poet, novelist, and philosopher. But in his eyes, color theory was his most significant achievement. In 1810 Goethe published Farbenlehre, naming three primary colors--red, blue, and yellow--from which all other colors could be made, and claiming that each color had an opposite, or complementary, color. But how does this relate to well-loved artist Eric Carle's Hello, Red Fox? Well, it's like this. On his special birthday, Little Frog's friends--Red Fox, Purple Butterfly, Orange Cat, and others--begin to arrive at his house for a party. Imagine Mama Frog's surprise when she perceives Red Fox as green, Purple Butterfly as yellow, and so on. Each time, Little Frog gently points out that she simply hasn't stared at each animal long enough to see his or her "true color."
At the beginning of the book, readers are instructed to stare for ten seconds at the boldly colored animal on the left side of the spread, then transfer their unblinking gaze (more like glaze at this point) to the blank white page on the right. If they do that successfully, a shadowy image of the animal appears in its complementary color! Young kids may think this is magic, but actually the phenomenon taking place between the eye and the brain is called "simultaneous contrast after-image." No matter what you call it, it's amazing and fun to behold! The story itself is simple and deliberately repetitive, appealing to very young children, but the optical illusions will be a hit with all ages. Carle's bold collage illustrations are perfect for this playful spin around the color wheel, which ends with the green Little Frog turning red when Mama Frog kisses him in front of all of his friends. (Ages 4 to 8). Karin Snelson [via]