Sunday, February 24, 2008

Children's Book for Grownups Too



A Taste of Colored Water
written and illustrated by Matt Faulkner

The children's section of the Washington Post Book World had a blurb about this a few weeks ago, and I was intrigued by it. I ordered it for my boys and used it as the children's message for our congregation's celebration of Black History Month this morning.

Two small white children (Jelly and Lulu) hear that the "big city" has "colored water." There are signs right on the fountains that say so. In their innocence, they imagine colored water to contain all the colors of the rainbow and all the flavors of their favorite fruits (apple, cherry, grape, etc.). Lulu and Jelly decide that they just have to get to the big city and taste this colored water for themselves.

What follows is a heartbreaking story about the shattering of the children's illusion when they learn that colored water is not the delicious and beautiful substance they have imagined but instead a symptom of horrible racial segregation and oppression of which up to this point they have not been aware. One senses at the end of the short book that Jelly's and Lulu's tears at some level are about much more than the disappointment over "colored water." They have become aware of an evil, and there is no reclaiming the naivete they had before. I wanted to cry right along with them.

I recommend this book for parents and educators who want to begin to introduce some of the history of the civil rights movement to children. It held our children's attention in church this morning and helped the kids see how absurd the Jim Crow laws were.

Reverent Reader

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