Format: Picture book (also available as a board book)
Author: Dr. Seuss
Illustrator: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (published August 1996)
Every parent is familiar with the core books of the Seuss canon: The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I hope your shelves also contain the lesser-known Seuss gems such as I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew and The Butter Battle Book. But even dedicated Seussians might have passed this one by, or fail to recognize its author, since it lacks the familiar and fabulous Seuss illustrations and it was published after the good doctor’s death.
The book is a first-person child’s account of feelings and how they change from day to day. “On Bright Red Days / how good it feels / to be a horse / and kick my heels! / On other days I’m other things. / On Bright Blue Days / I flap my wings.” Brown days are “slow and low. low down” and pink days are happy days, for jumping more than thinking. Some days are mixed-up, of course, “and wham! / I don’t know who / or what I am!” Expressive painted spreads by husband and wife illustration team Johnson and Fancher maintain some of the sense of whimsy that can’t seem to be separated from Dr. Seuss’s work, but in a new way, with monodimensional gingerbread-man-style painted cutouts changing colour and morphing into busy bees and howling wolves and lonely dinosaurs.
The book’s writing lacks the rollicking, boisterous rhymes and silly but captivating nonsense of the more famous Seuss stories. But the simple pairing of moods with colours and descriptions of feelings work very well and the book performs a crucial role on a child’s shelf: illustrating and naming feelings and teaching children about emotions. All kids struggle with their feelings; their brains are still working out how to process and express emotions. Frankly, this is something that many an adult struggles with too, so consider picking up a copy of My Many Colored Days for your emotionally stunted adult friends next time you’re wondering the bookstore aisles.