7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #773: Featuring Paul O. Zelinsky

h1 December 12th, 2021 by jules

“Christmas tree and menorah light / Red and green and blue and white
Stronger together / Shining bright!”

(Click spread to enlarge)


Sometimes you set out to write about a picture book and, before you do, you read a review of it or someone else’s thoughts on the book. And then you’re utterly ruined for articulating your thoughts, because … well, that person did such a good job. That’s how I feel about author Laurel Snyder’s recent piece at the New York Times on Lee Wind’s Red and Green and Blue and White (Levine Querido, October 2021), illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. Laurel does a beautiful job of capturing this book’s special-ness. And she does so in such a direct way, with no word acrobatics or clichéd review-speak. (If you’re interested in reading her piece and can access it, it’s here.)

The book, inspired by a true story (you can read more about that here), starts with two children — Isaac, helping his family decorate for Chanukah, and Teresa (just across the street), helping her family decorate for Christmas. The brilliantly composed opening spread (pictured below) makes it clear that only one house in this neighborhood has decorated with the colors of Chunukah. In a short space, Wind expertly establishes the friendship between Isaac and Teresa, as well as the eagerness they both feel for the holidays (“counting down to the holidays”) that their respective families celebrate: “[Both] thought you couldn’t have too many sprinkles on a cookie.” In a series of vignettes, Zelinksky captures the two friends playing in the snow, reading holiday books, hanging out with siblings, and eating those sprinkled cookies.

The tone shifts dramatically when someone in the shadows of night throws a stone through the window of Isaac’s home, and Isaac, “wide awake, watched their menorah flicker out.” As you can see below, when his mother asks if they should light the menorah again, Isaac feels like “it would be like hiding they were Jewish” if they did.

So they do. And Teresa sees this and puts a drawing of a menorah in her window: “For Isaac.” Soon, people in their neighborhood and the rest of the community do the same — all in a tremendous show of support, empathy, and community.

It’s a spectacular book. Wind spins this story in a way that possesses such respect for the inner lives of children: My favorite line in the book happens when Teresa, after the stone-throwing, looks out her window, sees the menorah lit once again, and lets out “a breath she hadn’t known she was holding.” Zelinsky’s vibrant tableaux shift dramatically when the stone is thrown: The palette darkens, and smooth, calm lines make way for jagged ones. His compositions here are exquisite, and he mangages to capture so much in one spread without overwhelming the reader. In one spread alone, we see this story on the television; we see it in the paper; we see Isaac and Teresa preparing to be interviewed (Zelinsky nails their facial expressions and body language); we see the town decorating with both wreaths and menorahs; and we see people standing, hands clasped and holding drawings of menorahs, standing in a line. It’s a lot of information in one spread (also, look closely at how much information we get from the cover itself) — and, with such eloquence, Zelinsky makes it work.

Here are some spreads below, though this is one you’ll want to, if at all possible, hold in your hands.


“On a block dressed up in Red and Green,
one house shone Blue and White.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“Isaac wrote poems, and Teresa made art.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“The adults talked, and talked. ‘You’ll sleep in our room for now,’ his dad told Isaac and his sister. Isaac’s mom asked, ‘Should we light the menorah again?’ If they didn’t,
Isaac knew it would be like hiding they were Jewish. That didn’t feel right.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“Across the street, Teresa watched the menorahs come on, and let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding. She took out paper, and markers, and drew. When she was done, Teresa added two words, and put the drawing up in the window.
Through the paper, the light shone Blue and White.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


RED AND GREEN AND BLUE AND WHITE. Text copyright © 2021 by Lee Wind. Illustrations copyright © 2021 by Paul O. Zelinsky and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Levine Querido.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) Boosters for my teen daughters. Yay, science. Again.

2) A new work opportunity.

3) I was happy to hear that Japanese Breakfast’s 2021 album was chosen as #1 on NPR’s listeners’ poll. This one has been a bop for me this year:


Japanese Breakfast · Savage Good Boy


4) Reservation Dogs.

5) All That She Carried. The writing is exquisite.

6) The final episodes of PEN15. Soooo funny. And poignant. I don’t want it to end.

7) This is mighty entertaining.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #773: Featuring Paul O. Zelinsky”

  1. Happy holidays, Imps! Hello, Paul – and Laurel!

    Jules: Yay for your kids! Yay science!

    My kicks:
    1) Stretching
    2) Ahead
    3) Info
    4) Details
    5) Without hesitance
    6) Ice cream
    7) Same

  2. Oh wow, this book is needed in the world. Congrats to Lee. How cool to have Paul O. Zelinsky illustrate the book.
    Jules, ALL THAT SHE CARRIED…I so agree. I need to check out Reservation Dogs.
    Little Willow, love number 5 and 6.
    My kicks:
    1. Twinkling lights everywhere.
    2. Went to a play last night, Every Christmas Story Ever Told by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald, John K. Alvarez. It was hilarious.
    3. Stumbled on the latest Jodu Picoult book, WISH YOU WERE HERE, on the Lucky Day shelf.
    4. Coffee and catch up with a friend.
    5. Poetry and poems.
    6. Decorating.
    7. Homemade tamales with friends later today.
    Have a great week.

  3. What a beautiful and timely book!

    Jules – yay for science and booster shots! New job opportunity sounds exciting, and Reservation Dogs is so so good.

    Little Willow – love your kicks, especially Stretching and ice Cream!

    Jone – hooray for twinkling lights, coffee, poetry, poems and decorating!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Finally snowing on Mt Hood! Now, if it would just snow in town for Christmas. . .
    2) A happy hour catchup with a friend I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic that turned into a long dinner.
    3) Hawkeye! I am loving the chemistry and banter between Hawkeye and Kate so much. Really love another badass young woman (potential) super hero.
    4) Listening to my Christmas playlist while snuggling Daisy on the sofa, plus good coffee. Perfect Sunday morning.
    5) Baking a small batch of Christmas cookies.
    6) Getting Christmas cookies in the mail from The Blueboys. Cute gingerbread dog cookies!
    7) Daisy in her Christmas jammies.
    7.5) Lots of work to keep me busy, and hopefully I’m on track to finish it all in time to take some time off for Christmas.

    Have a great week everyone!!

  4. Jules,

    I’m so glad you liked my review! Thanks for the mention. It’s a special book.

    My kicks:

    1. Boosters for teens!
    2. Waxahatchee
    3. Understanding editors who allow deadline extensions
    4. Abrams announcing her run for governor
    5. Several night of good sleep in a row (rare here)
    6. Two weeks caffeine-free
    7. My kid’s play (and practices) are over

  5. Thank you for this lovely write-up! It’s exciting to have this story about spreading light spread more light…

  6. Little Willow, it is D E L I G H T F U L to have “without hesitance” and “ice cream” next to one another.

    Jone, what is the Lucky Day shelf? I’m dying to know if that’s metaphorical or literal. … Going to a play. Ahhhhh. Nice! We have tickets to see an actual concert in January. It’s been since the pandemic began that I’ve seen live music. (The musician is requiring masks and proof of vaccination or negative COVID tests. Nice!)

    Rachel, we are enjoying Hawkeye too, especially my teen daughters. (They also love Kate.) Hugs to Daisy in CHRISTMAS JAMMIES. I had to look up the Blue Boys. Adorable. Good luck with that last kick. I also hope you get some time off. You deserve it.

    Laurel: It’s SUCH a good review. YES YES YES to that fourth kick.

    Hi, Lee! Thanks for writing this book.

    Have a good week, you all!

  7. Rachel, Cookies and a friend catch up, yes!
    Laurel, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep.
    Jules, The library has a shelf (in the library I go to it’s a rounder) that holds all the books that are new releases, very popular, hard to reserve. Sometimes there are DVDs. These books/materials can be checked out for a 14 day loan, no renewals. You cannot reserve a Lucky Day book. It’s your Lucky Day if a book you want is there. I wasn’t planning on the new Picoult book and there it was.

  8. Love that shelf’s name, Jone.

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