Freight Train – Donald Crews

POINTS: 2 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points.

This book really has no characters, so it can’t pass any of the character based metrics. It does make me wonder a bit, not for the first time, about how the people who wrote this list worked out the age ranges. I’d say realistically this book would be great for much younger kids.

C liked it, because, well, trains, and he’s a fan, but it’s really about colours and simple illustrations. I’d say it would be awesome for a 2/3 year old rather than a 3-5.

It is super simple. A train on a track in rainbow colours. I mean it was kinda fun for us, because C tried to read it to me (which he is just learning to do now, which is SO NEAT YOU GUYS), but it was really a bit young for him.

No real story to speak of, so there’s not a lot I can say about it. I think he’d have LOVED it at a younger ago. From our point of view in this project though, there’s not much going on there. There is much to be said for simple books aimed at very young children, but there’s not a lot of discussion you can have about the ideology of a steam train in rainbow colours going through a tunnel.

I suppose if I wanted to, I could choose to interpret the rainbow in a LGBTQ way, but honestly I think it’s really more that kids like to learn colours. 😛

Good for what it is.



Little Blue and Little Yellow – Leo Lionni

POINTS: 2 out of 10.

Bechdel:  0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points

This is kind of a nifty little book which is, basically about colours and how they mix.

To address the criteria we’ve set out, it doesn’t pass the Bechdel, as the only characters who are explicitly female are Little Blue and Little Yellow’s mothers. Little Blue is gendered as male, Little Yellow isn’t gendered at all, but since we’re talking about blobs of colour this isn’t particularly surprising. I mean, it’s obviously doing the “default to male” thing a bit, but meh. So, no Bechdel, no diversity, but that’s not particularly bad in this context.

C and I both enjoyed it well enough. It’s a pretty cute little book that explores the basic idea of mixing primary colours to make secondary ones. Little Blue and Little Yellow hug and both turn green, and I suppose if you had a degree in narrative theory and were prone to over-thinking things (ahem) you could come up with some sort of interpretation to do with how, like, interacting with people makes you more like them and how your interactions always affect other people, and you become who you choose to be friends with and whatnot, but really at the end of the day, the point of this book seems to be that when you mix yellow and blue together you get green.

While it’s fun to over-analyse sometimes, I think in this case it’s thoroughly missing the point. So while this book scores pretty low on the scale we’ve set up, I actually think that’s more because it is in a completely different category. It is fiction and narrative of course, but it’s a bit like judging an encyclopedia on its plot – kind of ludicrous.

I like stories with some narrative meat, so while it was fun to read it won’t find its way onto my list of favourites, but that’s totally a personal taste thing. My five year old who is fascinated by mixing colours loved it.

So yeah, this one isn’t gonna damage your little darling’s psyche. 😉 It’s kind of fun. It works well for what it is.