Sometimes a book blows you away. I was amazed by the simplicity and brilliance of One by Kathryn Otoshi when I encountered it a couple years ago. My daughter’s school librarian talked her into it and we got to read it with her at home. It’s a 2008 picture book with simple swirls of watercolor. It stars Blue, a little blob of blue watercolor. He has friends who are also color dabs.
Unfortunately Red is a hothead who has to put down Blue to feel okay about himself. Red becomes a worse and worse bully who gets bigger when the other characters don’t stand up to him. The other blobs don’t want Blue mistreated, but how can they stand up to him when he’s so blustery and powerful? Finally they find a way for everybody to “count” in this world. And yes, Red the ex-bully will count too.
Sounds a little abstract maybe? Sure, but somehow the blobs and the story feel as real as the first time you ever got bullied in elementary school. Young kids can enjoy this book, but I think the theme might resonate more with upper elementary kids. Otoshi gives all her readers a dose of worth and dignity between the pages of this remarkably original picture book.