Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Girl Who Heard Colors

Harris, Marie (Author)
Brantley-Newton, Vanessa (Illustrator)
Penguin Random House 2013. 32 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9780399256431 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

figurative language, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Jillian loves the “tickling touch of her bunny’s whiskers on her cheek,” the “taste of warm maple syrup on waffles,” the “smell of wet grass” and the sights and sounds around her. What she loves most is seeing the colours of sounds. A dog’s bark is red; when she rings her bike’s bell, she sees silver. Her teacher’s voice is green as a frog.

One day at school a lunch box drops and spills its contents with a loud clatter. When her teacher asks what it is, Jillian replies “yellow.” Her school mates laugh at her and she sees inky black. Her teacher and parents are worried, but the doctor finds nothing wrong with her. On Music Day, a musician brings in all sorts of instruments. When Jillian is overwhelmed by all the colours she sees, the musician understands and explains what is happening. Like Jillian, he has synesthesia, which means having a special extra sense. While everyone smiles, Jillian smiles too and sees blue.

Delightful digitally composed illustrations punch up the pages with every brilliant colour imaginable – pink, purple, magenta, orange. They enhance the book’s images and draw the reader’s attention, holding equal weight with Harris’ simple, clear and easy to read text.

An author’s brief note explains synesthesia and the various ways it presents itself through the five senses.

  •  

    Review the names and functions of the five senses. Share examples of some of your favourite sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures.

  •  

    As you read, make connections with the sensory experiences described.

  •  

    When the other children laugh at Jillian, she describes hearing “inky black.” What colours do you associate with different emotions? Use pictures and words to share your thinking.

  •  Meeting the musician who is also a synesthete makes Jillian feel better again. Think of examples in other books or personal experiences when knowing you are not alone can be comforting.
  •  

    Discuss the five senses. Start word lists for each sense (Hearing: listen, buzz, hum, noise, etc.).

  •  

    Which is your favourite sense and why?

  •  

    Do you experience a special sense or do you know anyone who does? How would you describe it?

  •  

    Discuss how people may perceive things differently. Can this cause problems? Think of examples and solutions.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use information
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Science and Technology
  • Visual Arts