You just can't go wrong with an Eric Carle book! The man is in the kid's lit canon for a reason. His stories hit the right mark with young readers in his language, pacing, and subject matter. His artwork is always colorful and engaging with his now iconic collage style and broad paint strokes. This story, Hello, Red Fox, is one that I have been less familiar with compared to his more popular books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear (a must must must for any new home library!) or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but I'm glad I picked it up recently because it is a great introductory lesson on the color wheel.
The story is based on the color theory developed by a German novelist/poet/scientist during the 1800s, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. An anecdote on the inside cover of Hello, Red Fox tells the story of how Goethe was sitting in a cafe one day staring at the striking contrast a waitress's red dress made against the white wall behind her (sure, Goethe, that's what you were staring at. wink.) When the waitress moved, he kept his gaze on the white wall, and he was amazed that he could still see a faint outline of her dress on the wall but instead of being red, it was green! Repeated experiences like this (how many waitresses' dresses was this guy staring at?) caused Goethe to spend his entire life studying color, and he created the color wheel that we still use today.
Hello, Red Fox tests the same color experiment while telling a fun story about Frog inviting his friends over for his birthday party. When each of his friends arrive, Frog's mother is surprised to find that they are all the wrong colors. Red Fox is green. Orange Cat is blue. What's going on? Frog tells his mom that she is just not looking at them long enough, and Frog's mom and readers test Goethe's theory by staring at each animal followed by a blank white page. If done correctly, looking at the blank page will transfer the stared-at image in the opposite color on the color wheel. It was fun for all of us to try this even though I'll admit it was hard to get it to work especially for my three year old. You have to stare at the picture for a full ten seconds, and well, he doesn't stay still for a full ten seconds of anything!