Elise Bellin, MLIS is the IRC Librarian and this book review is part of an ongoing series that focuses on a range of books within the IRC collection as a service to the community.

The Color of Home

by Mary Hoffman, pictures by Karin Littlewood, © 2002 – ISBN: 9780803728417

America has seen its share of young refugees from war-torn countries in recent years. Children who have seen far more than we would ever want them to see come here for a fresh start, safe from violence and bloodshed. But the memories of home linger, both before and after the heartache that brought them to our shores and the harsh realities of our politicized country don’t always allow for their easy transition. Given the politicized climate in which we find ourselves today, it is easy to see how such individuals might slip through the cracks.

It is up to us to give these children the chance to flourish that they deserve and to ensure that our children give them a chance, not judging based on nationality, race, ethnicity or religion, but, as a great man once said, on the content of their character.

The Color of Home, done in beautiful bright watercolors, is a story of just such a child. With great understanding and care, the author paints us a story of one young boy who left his home and family behind him in Somalia and in the refugee camps they escaped to to come to America. Through the attention and concern of his parents and teachers, and the power of the paintbrush, he is able to tell his story and find a way to make his life here his home. Unlike what might have happened, he did not slip through any cracks.

The teachers and parents saw the signs of trauma; the children were nice and sought to befriend him. Everything turned out well. It is an important lesson for us all to learn and one particularly important for us to share with our children. Appropriate for children in Kindergarten through second grade.

Founded in 2011, the Islamic Resource Library (IRC) is the first Islamic library in Wisconsin. The IRC aims to provide resources to educators, students, health professionals, interfaith groups, and any members of the Milwaukee community that want an accurate understanding of the Islamic faith, its practices, and its people.

Karin Littlewood