Imagine the world drained of all its colour. That’s exactly what The Colour Thief does. Here is an endearing tale of a grumpy giant that can’t stand the bright outdoors or the colours that bloom there. The first sprig of spring finds him plotting inside his dark, dingy cave, determined to get rid of all the colour in the world once and forever. He swoops around gathering all the colours he can into his net, until land and sea are as bleak as the inside of his home. The last burst of colour he must tackle is the sun. But before he can, a brilliant band of colours appears in the morning sky, glistening in the sunshine. Try as he might the colour thief just can’t seem to rob the rainbow of its colours. He retreats to his cave, a lonely colour thief. What will he do next?
The giant’s selfishness has snatched away from those around him all that is beautiful. Rather than dictating to their young readers what the colour thief should do to right his wrongs, Aitken and Sikunder leave that task up to a little girl. She cannot see, but she helps the giant realize that he has robbed the joy out of so many people’s lives and the only thing he can do now is reverse what he has done. She rustles up a group of children who help the giant restore the colours he has stolen. This picture book emphasizes that while the adults only rail at the giant, the little girl and her friends take matters into their own hands and decide to turn the situation around. Unlike several other stories, the giant is not someone feared by the children; rather they treat him as one of their own by the end of the story.
The illustrations in this book deserve special mention as they work brilliantly in combination with the narrative. Keeping the premise of the story in mind, Prabhat has crafted beautifully jewel-toned pages that contrast with stark grey hued ones, robbed of all vibrancy. As the colour thief swoops around, the colours swirl into his net like a slice from a Van Gogh painting, full of movement and vivacity. You can’t help feeling a certain pang of regret with the giant as he wallows in shades of darkness, and then a thrill of delight as the captive colours are set free to take their rightful places.
The language in the book is simple, ideal for young bookworms and read aloud-sessions. The engaging art is sure to capture the attention of even the most reluctant reader. While the book is aimed at children of ages five and above, it promises a delightful reading experience for readers of any age.
Tara Saldanha lectures in English literature and language at the undergraduate level. She emerges periodically from beneath a pile of books to write about what she loves.