Purple is Kathryn the Grape’s favorite color! Purple is the color of royalty, but Kathryn was not acting very royal at dinner with her family, including her three brothers. The night’s menu is the All-American favorite, hamburgers, which Kathryn does not like. To add to her distress, Kathryn’s brothers were talking about their days and Kathryn wanted to do the same. Instead of speaking up, she stared at the hamburger on her plate and waited for someone to pay any attention to me. So I just sat there staring at that gross hamburger.
When her mother asked what was wrong, Kathryn complained about the hamburger rather than speak up about her day. She stomps up to her bedroom, yelling you only love the boys, slammed the door, and waited for someone to check on her. Maggie, a magical butterfly and Kathryn’s best friend, flies over and asks if it was another hamburger night (which everyone loves except Kathryn). Kathryn continues her complaining to Maggie, who responds by taking Kathryn on a trip to show her how colorful you really are. She gives Kathryn a charm bracelet that will shine a color when she learns something about herself.
At the first stop, a tree represents belonging and a charm shines a bright red when Kathryn realizes she belongs in her family, just as the tree belongs in the forest. Further along the trip, another charm shines yellow the color of trust when Kathryn understands how to trust yourself and your intuition. By the end of their trip, Kathryn learns much about herself including how bright and colorful she shines. Back home, a brightly shining bracelet on her wrist, and new gained self-knowledge, Kathryn realizes she needs apologize to mom.
The book is extremely colorful, as one would expect from the title. The colors burst off the page and will delight any child between ages three and nine. Kathryn looks to be eleven or twelve years old. She is the only girl in the family of six. At dinner, while the boys excitedly tell their parents about their day, smiling and laughing, Kathryn sits and pouts. She wants attention, she wants to tell everyone about her day, and she wants to eat something other than a hamburger for dinner. Instead of expressing any of these desires, Kathryn the sour grape yells about dinner then storms off, still yelling. She sounds and acts like a spoiled child who, for once, was not the center of attention.
Maggie, the magical butterfly takes Kathryn on a trip of self-discovery. At each stopping point, a lesson is waiting for Kathryn to learn. If she understands, the charm for that stop will shine brightly in a corresponding color. The tree charm shines red when Kathryn learns she belongs and the heart charm shines green when she admits she loves her family. Why does the heart shine green? Green is the color of envy, which certainly matches Kathryn’s attitude toward her brothers, but that is not the color of love. No, the charm of belonging, the tree charm, shines red. Another charm, the sun charm, shines yellow when she realizes she should trust herself, even more than she should trust her parents. Sure, she should learn to trust herself, but more than she trusts her parents?
The stop where everything became dark and gloomy, because Kathryn let her thoughts wander to thinking her brothers were laughing at her (they were not) and her parents loving the boys more than they love her (they do not), made the most sense out of this trip. Maggie tells her negative words come from negative thoughts, and negative thoughts make everything cloudy. This is the crux of Kathryn’s problems. At dinner, when her brothers were talking and laughing about their days Kathryn wanted to talk about her day, but would not speak up. Instead, she took on a negative attitude, sat pouting, and then yelled needlessly at her mother instead of using the opening to talk about her day.
When Kathryn admits she is wrong and that she loves her family, including her brothers, the heart charm shines brightly, representing good, positive, love emotions. This charm is the heart that shines green. Colors aside, Kathryn’s journey is as self-centered as her attitude. Maybe I just do not get this story, even after reading it four times. I understand the premise, which is a neat idea. Take this negative, self-centered child on a trip of enlightenment. I just do not like Kathryn the Grape’s journey.
My feelings aside, I do think young girls will like this story and find it entertaining, if not educational. I can see them twirling at the top of the hill with Kathryn, singing and dancing, with a brush microphone in one hand. I am sure many will hold up a mirror, just like Kathryn and say, “I trust me.” Young girls, and some boys, will enjoy the book and the adventure. All they really need is a charm bracelet that shines brightly at each stop along their Colorful Adventure.
Author: Kathryn Cloward & Ginny Hornby Illustrator: Christine Winscott Publisher: Kandon Publishing Publication Date: 2011 Number of Pages: 44 ISBN: 978-0-9829-2771-7