Saturday, September 21, 2013

Colors For Zena Book Review and Giveaway

I was so excited when I was contacted by the author of the new children's book Colors for Zena a while back. Yes, an actual author actually contacted little ol' me.  Monica Wellington is the author of many wonderful children's books, some of which we have read in the past and I have posted about here on Tots and Me.  Though at the time I wasn't looking specifically for Ms. Wellington's books and didn't realize the connection between the books, we have enjoyed all of her books we read, and I have now decided that I would love to introduce my children to more of her fun books.

Monica Wellington is a very talented artist, having enjoyed drawing and painting from a young age. It was when she was enrolled in college that she decided she wanted to be a professional artist. This eventually led to her deciding to write children's books. After publishing her first book in 1988, she has been writing and illustrating ever since. If I counted correctly, Colors for Zena is her 28th book!

I was thrilled to receive Colors for Zena, a book about...well... COLORS.

Zena is a little girl who wakes up one morning to find that there is no color in her world, everything is black and white and gray. So, she heads outside with her dog on an adventure to find the missing colors. Throughout the book they discover one color at a time, until all the colors have returned to her world.  In addition to her dog, her 3 stuffed animals are included in her grand adventure in really fun ways.

As Zena travels through her world the reader is immersed in color. Each double page spread is dedicated to the color the author is focusing on. Zena first encounters a street full of yellow, from the yellow stores and traffic, to the sun up above. The only colors on the page are black, gray, white and yellow in different intensities. When the reader turns the page the yellow has been left behind and Zena finds herself surrounded by different tints and shades of red. Though Zena has previously stated she loves both colors, she realizes her world is not complete with just those two colors as she states, "but I want more colors." And here comes the wonderful imagination of this book, in that now the two colors merge and there is a little red, a little yellow and a huge focus on orange. This pattern continues as Zena discovers blue, then more yellow which leads to green, and then again with red, blue and purple.

Each primary color is left behind when the reader turns the page and a new color is found, but the secondary colors travel with her as they are her friends. Her stuffed animals are introduced at the beginning of the book, but we didn't really pay attention to them as the author chose to focus on Zena and her dog. But as the secondary colors are introduced, her friends, the lion, the frog and the dinosaur come out to play. The background is always focusing on the color the author wants to show, but little by little the other colors are joining in.

Here is a sample of one of the pages focusing on a primary color:

This picture shows red and yellow mixing to become orange:

Once all the colors have been found, they remain on each and every page. Zena and her friends conclude their adventure by painting a picture. I found it perfect that Zena states, "We have everything we need," when they are getting ready to paint and have Yellow, Red, Blue, Black and White. This reinforces that all the other colors can be created by mixing these colors.

There are just so many little details in this book that make it such a fun book to read and explore. The first time we read the book through we didn't notice all the intricacies that make this book appropriate for both introducing colors to young toddlers and exploring colors with older children, both preschoolers and young elementary age children. My children range in age from 6 years old  through 19 months old, and they all seem to enjoy Colors for Zena. I've found Harold sitting on the floor turning pages and looking at the pictures. The text is simple, focusing on describing where Zena is and what colors she is seeing. The illustrations are bright and bold and oh so cheerful. All the characters always have smiles on their faces (even the people in the vehicles and the animals seem to be enjoying their day with happy faces).

I don't want to spoil the excitement of discovering all the other details Ms. Wellington has included, so I won't mention any more right now. Let's just say there is a lot more than initially meets the eye. Even as I was writing this review I noticed some things the children and I had not really paid attention to. I can't wait to read the book to them again and see if they notice.

The book concludes with a color wheel and suggestions for activities for children to explore color. We made our own color wheel and used a unique art canvas as an extension of this book.

A yummy art cake.

Now the only question left is, was Zena dreaming or did she really have a magical adventure. And that we will never really know, though we have discussed both possibilities.

You can learn more about Monica Wellington and her books by checking out her website and her blog. In addition to her books, she has coloring books available, and you can print out a couple of free coloring pages. You will also find copies of the recipes from several of her books. I featured her Applesauce Cake recipe in a Kids and a Mom in the Kitchen post almost a year ago when we were doing our apple unit. Two years ago we made Oatmeal Cookies from her book, Mr. Cookie Baker. I was so worried about having to return the book to the library, and not having the recipe anymore (because, let's face it, even when I write them down I lose them). Now I know that the recipes can be found on her site. This was a very, very cool thing to find out.

Speaking of cool things, the author has generously allowed me to offer a copy of Colors for Zena to one of my readers. So, of course, that means we are going to have a giveaway.

All you need to do is enter in the Rafflecopter form below. There are only 3 simple mandatory entries, with the remainder of the entries being optional. Remember, you do not have to do the extra entries, but they will increase your odds of winning. 

This giveaway is open to US residents 18 and over. 
The giveaway runs September 21 - October 5
Thanks for stopping by and good luck!

Disclosure: I received a copy of Colors for Zena by Monica Wellington in exchange for my honest review. I received no further compensation. This did not in any way influence my review. I only recommend products I use personally and feel will be a good products for my readers.


  1. My daughter loves books so i know she will love this one :)

  2. Blocking out everything but the color being focused on seems like a great way to reinforce learning! I've never heard of such a concept, I like it. :)

  3. For the giveaway entry: I think my child and I would most like the great plot to go find missing colors!

  4. What a fun book!! We love anything with colors :)

  5. This looks like a great book. I know both my little girls would love it!

  6. I think he will enjoy learning what colors mixed together make for new colors. Also, he will like that it is a book.

  7. I think my girls will like that it is about colors.

  8. My child would like the pictures

  9. My children would love exploring colors with this book.

  10. I think my daughter would like all of the different colors in the book, she's two and having a hard time with colors.

  11. I would like to win this to read with my little cousin. I think she would love the vivid colors & animals.

  12. They love rainbows and blending colors. My daughter would love this to help her remember what colors make what.

  13. grandchildren love colors and this looks like lots of fun

  14. I'm sure my daughter will love identifying the colors

  15. My twins will love reading the book, and learning about how to make new colors by combining them!

  16. We would enjoy the bright colorful pictures.

  17. I think that this is a great way to teach the kiddos about colors

  18. My older daughter loves her books and her colors. It will also be nice for our younger daughter to learn as she grows.

  19. The color wheel and suggestions for activities will be great to do together

  20. Thank you so much for this contest, I won and am super excited to try the activities near the end of this book. Thanks for all you hard work on your blog we really do appreciate it. Also please tell Monica Wellington Thank You and my grandkids will love this.


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