This gorgeous celebration of the color blue and the indigo plant, by a Korean American debut artist and storyteller, powerfully connects art and the natural world.
With lavish mixed-media art including watercolor painting and hand-dyed textiles, debut author-illustrator Rosa Chang pays tribute to the science and art of growing the indigo plant and making indigo dye. Woven throughout is a poetic tribute to the color blue, Chang’s favorite since her girlhood in Korea, and an appreciation of the indigo plant as a valued source of blue dye in cultures around the world. Informative back matter tells more about the science behind indigo dye production, with an “indigo map” of the shades of blue produced by indigo around the world, and simple instructions for growing your own indigo plants and making homemade blue dye.
Chang's autobiographical debut starts off recounting a childhood encounter with indigo dye in Korea, where she first fell in love with "the strong shade of blue sky we called jjok." Later, as an adult in Baltimore, she is given indigo seeds by a friend, and experiential text invites readers to join a community of people, portrayed with various skin tones, tilling soil and tending indigo seedlings in a neighborhood farm until the leaves get large enough "to cover the palm of my hand." "But how do we get a blue dye from these green plants?" Careful time-lapse paintings of a jar of water-covered indigo leaves grows gradually bluer, intensified with pickling lime. The dyers talk about what indigo means to them ("I think indigo is the color in which lives the spirit and soul of my people," one unattributed quotation reads) and Chang acknowledges indigo's historical connection to the labor of enslaved people ("It is important to remember the pain along with the joy"). Indigo-dyed textiles form a backdrop for watercolor portraits of individuals working with the dye in this heartfelt personal reflection about community and heritage. Ages 4–8.