The Yellow Umbrella

Quiet books, sleepy books, rainy day books…things are getting awfully cozy up in here. Burbank is finally shifting away from an unbearable valley summer, and I’m welcoming my scarves and boots back into the mix. Holler-lujah.

Say the word umbrella. No really. Out loud. Three or four times. Why? A) Because it’s a crazy fun word to say. Comes *this* close to eyeball as my favorite word. And B) I would be willing to bet all the money in my wallet (I just checked. All I’ve got is a picture of my cousin Austin and a $5 discount coupon on a pedicure. Oh, and a Canadian nickel, which always finds its way to the top of my change purse and has gotten rejected twice in the last couple weeks. Mani/pedi, eh?!)…rewind…I would be willing to bet all the money in my wallet that you emphasize the second syllable. I don’t. It’s all about the UM! {You can stand under my UM-brella, ella, ella, Canadian nickel eh-eh-eh?}  Makes me slightly cooler and quirkier, right? I also know how to yodel if you need any more convincing.


Moving on.

{The English and Chinese covers.}

The Yellow Umbrella is a drop dead gorgeous wordless picture book. Illustrated by Jae Soo Liu with, umbrellas are walked to school by their owners. The umbrellas act as the main characters, whirlygig-ing and floating fantastically as they splash their way to school. One yellow umbrella begins the march alone, and sweeps up others in a rousing crescendo of colors on a gray, wet morning. And! Wouldn’t it be nice to have a CD with accompanying original music so you can listen as you read? Dust off the CD player, cause you got it.


In the Layout and Composition class I taught this week, we talked a lot about ways to balance an image and move your viewer’s eye around it. You want to offer an entrance into an image, or a way to draw someone’s eye into the picture. Similarly, you also want to provide an exit point, Movement refers to the way you get into a picture, experience it, and then exit it. Dynamic compositions create pleasing paths of movement, and utilize natural entrances and exits.

We looked at this painting by Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World.

Immediately and effortlessly, your eye is drawn to the young lady in pink. You then follow her gaze diagonally out across the open fields, to the matted down tracks, and up to the barn and the house in the distance. In one sweeping motion, you entered the picture, followed the path the composition determined for you, and easily exited.

The same soothing movement happens on each page of The Yellow Umbrella. With the turn of each page, your eye is guided from left to right by the growing pack of umbrellas, always anchored by the yellow one, You get swept up in the bright parade and join them on their rainy day jaunt. That design element of this book actually becomes the way you experience it, interact with it, and enjoy it time and time again.

Now if only Southern California would drop enough rain for rain-slicker-fur-lined-galoshes-puddle-splashing. In the meantime, that’s me you hear yodeling.