Brian Banana Duck Sunshine Yellow Review

Brian Banana Duck Sunshine Yellow
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OK, full disclosure right off the bat: I work in sales for the company that distributes this book in the U.S. (The publisher, Allen & Unwin, is Australian.) And it might help me out a little bit (maybe a few pennies) if you would buy this book... but not here, on Amazon (though that helps out a co-worker of mine, whom I love, who sells to Amazon, so buying it here is OK, too), but rather through your local independent bookseller. That being said, just buy the book from wherever you want to buy it - you won't regret it.
Because it is wonderful. Maybe one of my favorite kids' books of all time. And I read a lot of kids' books.
First, the art: it is utterly gorgeous... painted in acrylic on matboard in all these wonderfully evocative hues of yellow, and blue, and green, and brown. (Some of the pictures are drawn on paper, with ink.) Painted and drawn in a style that looks as though five-year-old (? - six-year-old?) Brian Banana Duck Sunshine (as he points out, he has three first names - four, if you count "Sunshine") might have done them himself (only way better, of course, because they're by Chris McKimmie) - that is, NOT realistically, kid-style. (Don't know who came up with the idea up there in the Book Description that there are "realistic" scenarios in this book... uh-uh, not here.) Kind of a cross between Maira Kalman and Lane Smith, if that's your sort of thing.
By the way, Brian's last name is "Yellow," and this book is about him and what happens to him when he gets lost at the supermarket while visiting his Na-na and Grumpy Yellow one Saturday.
Now, the book and font design and lettering, also by Chris McKimmie: these also contributed enormously to my enjoyment of the book, most of the time again evoking the primitive hand-printing (only way better, of course: no little kid could print so sloppily so precisely) that little Brian himself might have done. Now, I love type, and fonts, and printing, and lettering of any kind, I admit it. All of that in this book was fantastic. I even read every last word of the copyright info, on the last page - also hand-lettered. Beautiful.
And finally, the story. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, or dissuade any potential readers, but I didn't really read this as a "warm-hearted picture book about identity and belonging." I think "identity and belonging" nails it, but man - I was all choked up - and not the happy kind of choked up... SAD! - all the way through this book... maybe because I totally got off on the wrong track with the copy on the back cover of the book (which you can read if you pick it up in a store, without reading the whole story, so I don't think I'm giving anything away here.) Here it is: "On Friday nights, all day Saturday and most of Sunday I stay with Na-na and Grumpy Yellow. One Saturday, I got lost. Twice. The first time, a big prawn found me. The second time, I found my own way home."
Does that sound "warm-hearted" to you? It sure as heck didn't to me! (Maybe that's because I got lost once, when I was four, riding my bicycle in my neighborhood, in Peoria - where my family lived. I'm pretty sure I was probably terrified without my mother. And a "pleecy-man" found me and brought me home.)
Anyway, I digress. I guess I started reading this book with the idea that it was gonna be sad. He spends Friday nights, all day Saturday and most of Sunday with his grandparents? Every week? Where is his mother, where are his parents on weekends? Does he even have parents? Maybe he doesn't - what happened to them? - and his grandparents take care of him on weekends, but they can't do it full-time, so the rest of the week he lives... where? (I shudder to think... an orphanage? a foster home?) And what about siblings? None of those? It's never really explained in the story - except that Brian has a "room" (and there are pictures of his stuff) at Na-na and Grumpy Yellow's place, and that he "likes" it there.
But that wasn't enough to make me feel better.
So you can see how I had worked myself up into such a state when I started reading this book, that the only way I could read it was with my heart half-breaking from the get-go.
And if you read it this way, and go with it, and feel what Brian Banana Duck Sunshine Yellow is feeling every step of the way... his fascination with the other "ducks" at the lake, his visit to the "big cow," and how it must feel when a strong wind lifts him up - so far up that he can see forever... it will knock you on your butt when you get to the last page.
Or - you could read it like it's heart-warming, and funny, and "cheerful" (as the description above also says), and I guess it might work that way, too.
All I know is that Brian Banana Duck Sunshine Yellow - and Chris McKimmie - made my day. And they ruined my day. I get all choked up over it (still) reading through it again now...
"She made me carry a yellow balloon so I would never get lost again."
God! This is a GREAT book! [...]

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The color yellow, in all of its manifestations, is the focus of this innovative and warm-hearted picture book about identity and belonging. Capturing the exceptional way a child sees the world, this story describes young Brian's adventures during his weekend visits to his grandparents' house, where he earns the three yellow-inspired nicknames: Banana, Duck, and Sunshine. The combination of realistic and fanciful scenarios will have young readers cheering along as Brian's incredible imagination carries him to escalating adventures centered on his favorite hue. The story is enhanced by striking illustrations, making this tale a true celebration of everything yellow.

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