Title: The Color of Earth
Author: Kim Dong Hwa
Illustrator: Kim Dong Hwa
Publisher: First Second (:01)
Copyright: 2009 (2001)
Summary and Quick Thoughts: In rural Korea, seven-year-old Ehwa starts learning about the differences between boys and girls, men and women. Every situation brings more questions answered the way children answer them followed by a clear explanation by her widowed mother. Ehwa continues learning about men and women as she grows and falls for her first two crushes. Her mother on the other hand, has met a traveling salesman who awakens something dormant for a long time. The Color of Water is a simplistically drawn yet detailed tale about Ehwa, her mother, and taking a moment to recognize the parallels in life. This edition provides a “readers” guide which helps the reader understand the parallels in the story.
Will Teens Like It? Only the mature reader. This is an adult title with adult themes.
Things to be aware of: sexual situations, nudity
Further Thoughts: I was drawn to this title when I read a review of it in Voya ages ago. I promptly forgot about the title until the last two books were reviewed recently and then when I saw it on ALA’s 2010 Great Graphic Novels. Again, we have a title that is picked for teens but is not actually appropriate for them. It discusses a lot about sex and romance. While the romance is something everyone will understand, sex in literature is something that develops with a reader at different times, some can read it early, others can’t.
Yet, for the reader who can read this, it is a delightful and poignant read. First, Kim Dong Hwa has created art that is timeless and speaks volumes from detailed flowers to sweeping scenes on a whole page or two page spread. The black, white, and gray tones provide enough for my mind to create the colors as needed. This is a prime example of “reading a movie” for me.
Ehwa awakens sexually in this story as she learns and sees things that she does not yet understand. The seven year olds are pretending to be older, but don’t really understand how it all works. As Ehwa gets older, she starts to understand and develop appropriately. Ehwa is a character that will grow and you hope the best for her. I cannot wait for the last two parts.
Bonus: This particular trilogy (next two posts will be the other two) has been getting a lot of interesting blog posting lately and it is similar to the whole "Twilight Feminism Thing" going on out there. Here is one example from The Manga Curmudgeon and showed up in my RSS feeder. At the end of June, there was a Manhwa Moveable Feast where you can check out essays, reviews, and comments about the trilogy (the earlier post was included). Honestly, I'm on the fence about the whole thing because while I enjoy a good love story with stereotypes, I'm not interested in having that in my life. It is escapism.
Months ago, the publisher, First Second (:01) posted this interesting blog post about the covers of The Color Trilogy and frankly, I'm glad the English covers got such a lovely makeover.
A 2010 ALA Great Graphic Novel choice