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on 11 June 2013
This is one of three books I bought to support a visually impaired child that I work with. It's one of the few books that I've found on Amazon that have a brailled translation and textured pictures, and I read it with my 1:1 child and a few friends for the first time today.
Some of the pictures are very nicely translated, like the water, grass, rain and hair. These feel interesting and like what they're depicting. However, other pictures are just... pictures. Like the flowers are just flowers. The kite is a kite. It sounds a bit mad to criticise this as an issue, but drawings for children with visual impairments need to be drawn in a certain way. The flower petals over lap and are drawn at angles, which by touching makes it not feel like a flower. Same with the kite and strawberries. There are so many things overlapping it becomes very confusing for those that are solely experiencing the book with their fingers. Also, all the drawings are done by simply raising the lines. There is no variation in texture or medium.
The descriptions are quite unusual though and not necessarily what I'd go for; blue for the sun's rays and sharp mustard for yellow. Some are clearly linked to the colour of the descriptor but others are quite different. On the one hand, kudos for breaking the mould and looking at the writing in a new way, but on the other hand for children who have never had the experience of colour it would make sense to keep the links between colour and taste/texture/smell, like the red for strawberries or green for cut grass.
Finally, I've seen it mentioned before but the braille isn't very suitable for reading. The dots are printed onto the page with the same stuff they used to raise the line drawings as opposed to being printed onto the page. This means the dots are too light to read even with the most sensitive fingers. However, it's nice for sighted children to be able to feel the page too and see what the braille is like without risking expensive braille books or precious work being scrubbed to death by curious fingers.
One thing I'd like to point out to anyone buying the book for a professional environment is that the author and illustrator are neither blind nor have any life experience with blindness. What they have conceived is a lovely concept which seems to be quite rare (there is very little available in the main stream for children with VI) but it certainly isn't as accessible or detailed as books like Heart of Stone.
Otherwise, it's a great concept book with a lot of talking points, whether or not you have a child with VI in your home or work life.