The Colored Water Fountain
by Calvin James
Illustrator: Jordan Pizzuti
Calvin James Creates (2021)
Reviewed by Grady (age 8) for Reader Views Kids (09/20/21)
“The Colored Water Fountain” is a book in which water from the four corners of the earth flood the world, washing it away, and creating an opportunity for a new and better beginning. The book follows an adventurous boy named Asher and a very kind girl named Adeline, who set off on an epic journey of discovery and are baffled when they encounter a drinking fountain labeled ‘colored water fountain’. They then trek to Mount High, where they meet an old tortoise who tells them about the world that was.
The author did an exceptional job of conveying an important message through a compelling, exciting story that makes it easy to take note of the problem in an easy-to-read, fun way. The message conveyed by this book is that black and white people are all human beings, all have feelings, and are all of equal worth.
Though I normally don’t read short picture books like this, I thought it was important to read this one because of the essential message it carries, a message of hope, justice, and equality. Dr. Calvin James relays this message in a way that makes you see how much needs to change in the world today, and wonder why some people haven’t thought of it already.
The fact that Dr. Calvin James wrote an anti-racist book at all is courageous and inspirational, and gives me a reason to hope for a brighter, kinder future! If I were three, and my parents were reading the book to me, Dr. James’ descriptive words and detailed pictures would help me to see the importance of his message, even if I was too young to understand the concept of race.
One connection I can make is the fact that my dad is a writer and writes a lot of anti-racist books.
I would recommend this book to an audience of 4-8-year-olds who think that blacks and whites are equals and human beings!
“The Colored Water Fountain” is a very good book which covers a subject that needs quite a lot of attention. Make sure to check this out—I thought it was great!
Additional Review by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views Kids (09/2021)
With Calvin James’s promotion to DAD in 2017, he aspired for ways to educate his son about the intricacies of life and the world we live in. What better way than through stories! James now has eight children’s books planned that are designed to teach his son, and all children, values such as truth, kindness, friendship, love and hope. His first book, “The Colored Water Fountain,” dives deep into the world of racism through a simple yet unforgettable story about a very different world.
Asher and Adeline are immortal children living in a world recreated by a great flood. This world is beautiful and good and the two have no memory of the past, nor do the animals who are the caretakers of this new world. But some things from the previous world were left behind. When the kids discover a water fountain with a sign above it reading, “Colored Water Fountain,” they are baffled. Whatever could this mean? This water is crystal clear—not colored at all! Curious, Asher and Adeline set out to discover its meaning. When they encounter a turtle who survived the great flood, Asher and Adeline learn the truth behind the sign. But what will they do with this newfound knowledge?
Wow! This story may be written for children, but make no mistake: every single adult on the planet needs to read this book as well. I got chills reading it through the first time and have read it several times since. Calvin James tells an evocative story of prejudice and racism as a story that is reminiscent of an old fable. The mystery around the water fountain propels readers forward with an eagerness to discover the answers as they travel right alongside Asher and Adeline.
The characters combine humans and anthropomorphic animals, providing a nice balance for young readers. While Asher is black and Adeline is white, they are not aware of this because skin color in the new world is not an indicator of anything. Good or bad. Right or wrong. What a novel concept. When Asher and Adeline meet Aeon the turtle, they learn the truth about the colored water fountain. It’s what Asher does with this information that reveals the absolute goodness and rightness in his heart.
While readers will admire Asher for his actions, those same actions are likely to stimulate even deeper conversations with your children. As they should. Is it right to wash away or cover up the past and, in doing so, cover up the truth? What are the detriments of racism to humanity? How can we come together as one? Many other questions will surface and these conversations are so important, especially in today’s world.
I highly recommend “The Colored Water Fountain” by Calvin James. It is respectful, inspirational, and thought-provoking. A MUST READ for kids of all ages 0-99+.