The Color Monster: a saga

When I originally discovered a book my daughter had written and illustrated, I was surprised and delighted by the insightfulness of the content and evocative expression in the artwork. I was floored that she had created such a composition and proudly photographed each page, preparing to share them with friends and family, beginning with my friend Ellen, who I knew would appreciate it. The plot here thickens a bit, but first I shall share the child-created book I discovered while flipping through a notepad on the art table:

The Color Monster by Summerly

Those four illustrations on the corners of the cover of this book, I assumed, are each intended to express a different emotion.

Page 1.

Chapter 1. “This is the Color Monster. Today he woke up feeling confused and he doesn’t know why…”

Page 2.

“Are you all mixed up again, Color Monster?” (Summerly’s editor has added punctuation for clarity. I guessed that this character is The Color Monster’s friend.)

Page 3.

“Your emotions don’t work well when they’re all jumbled up.”

Page 4.

“You should try to separate them and put each one in its own jar. If you’d like, I can help you. Let’s try to make sense of how you feel.”

Page 5.

This is the final page of the story, and the Color Monster’s friend looks happy here, if a bit optically vacant, and the Color Monster himself seems decidedly less upset, so I’m thinking the therapeutic process was helpful for him. He does appear to be a bit concerned about the hole in the paper up there, however.

Anyway, I sent these photos to Ellen, who is trained as a therapist, and she replied that it reminded her of a graphic representing the process of talk therapy. After some research, we found it:

Woolgathering.

Well, this seemed like either a wild coincidence or proof that my child’s EQ is off the charts. I inspected her book further and started to become suspicious; the detective impulse in my mind began cataloguing aspects of it that seemed somehow out of line with authenticity. First, there was the rather precocious concept. Then there was the narrative style, a distinct departure from anything she’d produced heretofore. Add to that the fact that she’d used the words “emotions” and “jumbled” and the phrase “make sense of”, which seemed unlikely turns of phrase considering my child’s parlance and patterns of speech. And then the final red flag finally waved wildly: the spelling was almost all completely correct in this slim volume of sagacity, and, knowing my daughter and her history with spelling, that in and of itself was enough to warrant a quick jaunt onto the worldwide web. Here’s what turned up:

#1 Bestseller.

So the bit of brilliance I’d uncovered in a spiral notebook was still a surprise and a delight, but the fact that it was the work of a copycat did diminish the effect a bit. I mean, even the illustrations were borrowed heavily from the original text. Obviously I ordered a copy of the book straightaway, as it clearly had made quite the impression on my child, and I silently applauded the fact that she’d chosen such quality content in her plagiaristic pursuits. The only question that remains is twofold: first of all, I can’t quite understand why this book is categorized by Amazon.com as belonging to the genre of “Children’s Spine-Chilling Horror”. The second, and arguably more perplexing, facet of this discovery is the conundrum of why that genre exists at all. I wonder if someone in the children’s literature department at Amazon needs to have a sit-down with the Color Monster’s friend and start, shall we say, unraveling some tightly-spooled balls of multicolored yarn that might have begun the process of entanglement during, probably, childhood.

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