“Every Color of Light: A Book about the Sky” by Hiroshi Osada


The gentle pitter-patter of falling rain intensifies into a storm: “Wetter / And wetter / The blues darker / And so do the greens…”


Every Color of Light, Hiroshi Osada, Ryōji Arai (illus), David Boyd (trans) ( Enchanted Lion Books, August 2020)
Every Color of Light, Hiroshi Osada, Ryōji Arai (illus), David Boyd (trans) (Enchanted Lion Books, August 2020)

But In Every Color of Light, the darkness turns to the vibrant pinks and golden yellow bolts of lightning. When the rain stops, the blues and greens lighten.


The air clears
All becomes bright


The day continues: the sun shines, flowers bloom, the sun sets, the sky blackens, the white moon appears and soon it is time to go to sleep.

Written by Hiroshi Osada in a translation by David Boyd and with illustrations by Ryōji Arai, Every Color of Light is a gentle book that tells the story of a day through nature. There is a quietness to the book that makes the words and the images all the more powerful. Each page is a work of art—there is richness in colors, but also the movement of the rain, the wind and the lightning, followed by the calm after the storm. There are landscapes of a forest in the golden light, and close-ups of individual raindrops “sparkling like crystals”.

The layout maximizes Arai’s work. Almost the entirety of each page is dedicated to the book’s art work, with Osada’s writing neatly printed at the bottom—just two lines per page. The sparseness gives the sense that the reader is reading (or being read) a poem. Osada is a poet and Arai is a celebrated illustrator, who was awarded the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2005. Osada and Arai have collaborated previously, with A Forest Picture Book (published in 2000) winning the Kōdansha Publishing Culture Award for Children’s Literature.

The tradition of the bedtime story means that there is no shortage of picture books that hit the brief. But Every Color of Light is worth adding into one’s regular rotation: rich, dreamy illustrations and a gentle calmness that is perfect for lulling a little one to sleep.

Melanie Ho is the author of Journey to the West: He Hui, a Chinese Soprano in the World of Italian Opera.