Coloured Pictures


80 pages
ISBN 0-920813-86-0
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by S. Sasso
Reviewed by Jean Free

Jean Free, a library consultant, is a retired public-school teacher and
librarian in Whitby, Ontario.


Thirteen-year-old Sujata is a Bengali girl whose parents have immigrated
to the Gerrard and Coxwell area of east Toronto. Her friends, Yannis (a
Greek) and Surinda (a Sikh) along with her 10-year-old brother, Samir,
are the main characters in this story of racial conflicts in the area
known as Little Delhi. When Surinda’s grandfather brings back
three-dimensional pictures of the Sikhs’ Golden Temple and of various
saints, her schoolmates who collect hockey cards—make fun of them.
Bob, one of the biggest boys in the school, ridicules the friends as
being “stupid Pakis” and threatens to have the Ku Klux Klan
intervene. A new teacher, Stephen Stephenson, is supportive of the
children and discusses ethnic differences in his social studies class.
Sujata gets into a fight with the white boys and is hurt as she realizes
that “these kids don’t want to know us.”

Coloured Pictures may be of interest to intermediate-grade students in
elementary schools, since it focuses on the problem of being different.
However, the novel reads awkwardly and contains typographical errors,
the conversations are rarely realistic, and the solution is simplistic.
The ideas promoted—“racism hurts everyone,” and embarrassment over
your parents’ culture—would, however, strike a responsive chord in
young people who have unfortunately learned that “if you aren’t
white then you are kind of black.”


Bannerji, Himani., “Coloured Pictures,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,