How the Finch Got His Colors

In How the Finch Got His Colors, author Annemarie Riley Guertin and illustrator Helena Pérez García bring a Flemish legend to gloriously colorful life.

The folk tale tells how the Gouldian finch, native to Northern Australia and New Guinea, gained its spectacularly vibrant feathers. "Many years ago," Guertin's interpretation begins, "the Earth lay stark and gray. The animals... were the colors of dirt, clay, and stone." García's double-page spread features monochromatic examples of familiar animals--lions, giraffes, horses--depicted on rolling gray hills. "To prepare Earth for its awakening, a great rain fell upon the land." When the skies cleared, there was a rainbow. "As Rainbow shimmered down, she turned everything in her path into bright, bold colors": García's gray landscape is cut down the center by a swath of vibrant greens, pinks, reds, as Rainbow sets the world alight.

Great Bird tells the birds to line up and wait their turn for color. But all of the birds push to the front, "worried that all of Rainbow's colors [will] be taken." Rainbow begins to "grow weary from her hard work" and, as her colors fade to nothing, Great Bird notices that the tiny finch is still gray. Finch, who has waited patiently for his turn, begins to cry. Ashamed, all of the birds come together and, with the help of Rainbow's kiss, donate a little bit of their color to the tiny bird, giving him feathers "every color of the rainbow."

Featuring "Fun Facts," discussion questions and a bibliography, debut author Guertin's text gives the fable the gentle cadence of a bedtime story while García's brilliantly stylized illustrations give a nod to the fable's European roots. How the Finch Got His Colors is an uplifting and riotously colorful origin myth. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor

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