Nonfiction Books – Living Color





Living Color



Jenkins, Steve. 2007. LIVING COLOR. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618708970.

Plot Summary


Steve Jenkins uses every color of the rainbow in this beautiful book to teach children just why animals are different colors, and how they use their distinct color to survive in the animal world. This informational book is organized by color with bold, detailed illustrations answering children’s questions about dozens of animals. Readers can turn to the back of the book to read more detailed facts about each animal.


Critical Analysis

This is a gem of a book from award-winning author and illustrator Steve Jenkins, which invites children to explore and learn with each page. Jenkins begins the large format book with a two-page spread of a red frog’s eye’s encouraging children to look with their own eyes at the fascinating animal facts throughout the book. The white background of each page helps the brightly hued illustrations pop off the page.


Red can mean, “feed me” to a baby crow, or “stay away from me” to a Malaysian cherry-red centipede. The captions alongside each animal invite the reader to learn more. Of the leafy sea dragon, it says, “Look again…” and children are eager to know more about this oddly shaped green animal. Jenkins draws the reader in with cut-paper collage illustrations of animals in striking hues of red, blue, yellow, green, orange purple and pink. Jenkin’s descriptions explain just why each animal has that particular color, like how the bright yellow color of the deadly eyelash viper “warns other animals that it is armed and dangerous.”

Living Color is beautifully organized with large and small animals described in each of the color families. The book includes a section for readers to learn “More about animal color…” including “why mammals are so drab?” At the back of the book there is a thumbnail illustrations of every animal in the book including name, length, habitat, diet, and even more interesting facts. The colorful illustrations will draw readers in and the fascinating facts will leave them curious to learn more.


Review Excerpts

BOOKLIST: “It’s difficult to imagine a science topic better suited to picture-book form than this one, which offers a pageant of the most stunning, vividly hued creatures on the planet.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY starred review: “Jenkins once again astounds…the combination of easy-to-understand language and gorgeous illustrations makes this a prime choice for any young animal enthusiast’s collection.”




Booklist Editor’s Choice

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2007


2008 Orbis Pictus Recommended Books


New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing




  • Visit the author’s Web Site, and share with students the gallery of artwork that young artists have shared. Encourage students to write to the author and send their own original creations.
  • Have students work in small groups, choose a few animals from the book research the animals and share what they learn with the class.
  • Ask each child to choose an animal to learn about. Make a collage of  that animal and include interesting facts from research.
  • Visit the Web Site Animal Corner at to learn more about animal color.


Image from Houghton Mifflin Books


About libraryloverleslie

I love libraries and books, most especially those for children and young adults. I’m a Children’s Librarian in the Pacific the dream!
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