Lemons Are Not Red – a captivating introduction to color

thDie-cuts prompt children to name the colors of a parade of fruits, vegetables, animals and more.


Bibliographic Info:  Vaccaro Seeger, Laura  Lemons Are Not Red  Roaring Brook Press and Square Fish (2004) 32pp.  Formats: Hardcover ISBN 978-1-59643- 008-2 $16.95, Paperback   Interest Level: K-2  Reading Level: Genre: English Language, Nonfiction, Toy/Game Books  Themes:  Colors, Shapes, Vocabulary

StorytimeWow_FinalLogo-1This material was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on March 9th, 2015. The picture book meets the StorytimeWOW Standards and has been selected for the PictureBookWOW collection.  Read the Storytime section below for details on why it was selected.

th-1Summary:  A toy nonfiction book and guessing game introducing colors through die-cut reveals.


Review:  This cleverly crafted non-fiction guessing game is recognized as one of the best color books out there (if not the best there is).  A 2005 ALA “Notable Children’s Book”, the text begins “Lemons are not red.”  We see a lemon-shaped, yet red-colored die-cut (against a lemon-yellow background).  The page turns to reveal that the red seen through the die-cut is actually an apple.  Simultaneously, the lemon-shaped die-cut now frames the lemon-yellow background from the preceding page.  Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s effective trick is a concept that she continues throughout this title (and several more works).  The result is a fun read-aloud game that provides a nonfiction respite for storytime participants.  This book’s pages present various fruits, animals and objects in gloriously saturated and contrasting colors.


Storytime:  Lemons Are Not Red received the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal and been selected for the Picture/eBookWOW collection on this website because it meets the following StorytimeWOW Standards:

  1. Dynamic writing and universal appeal. This nonfiction toy book can quickly be turned into a fun participation game in all read aloud scenarios.
  2. A strong writing/illustrating relationship is evident.  This is a highly conceptual book in which all the components work together to create a fun and educational experience.
  3. This book has the “WOW” factor (children find it enjoyable).
  4. Lemons Are Not Red is well-suited for repetition.
  5. The illustrations work for groups.
  6. The takeaway is a fun and educational experience.
  7. Colors and shapes are appropriate child-centered themes.
  8. This nonfiction book keeps the listener’s attention and is free of squirmy moments.
  9. The interest level of this story is noted as preK-2, but even toddlers will enjoy and benefit from experiencing it during storytime (and the die cut reveals will help to hold their attention).
  10. A high concept with built-in participation involves readers on every page.

th-2Storytime Tips:  This book (and all of Laura Vacarro Seeger’s clever books) can create a highly interactive edutainment experience for groups of kids.  Allow children to fill in the colors as you read. For example, say “Lemons are not ____”.  Children will see the red color and say “red”.  Give them the opportunity to use their voices and tell the story along with you.  When you turn the page, say “Lemons are ____ (let them see and say “yellow”).  Then you nod and say “Apples are _____ ” (let them see and say “red”).  Kids will catch on with your rhythm quickly.  Move through the pages of this book as a group.


Early Childhood Education and Development:  The following lists the stand-out benefits of Lemons Are Not Red across various early childhood education (ECE) and child development checklists:

1.  This book cultivates the following Pre-Reading Skills (see full list of pre-reading skills here):

  • Knowing the names of things (vocabulary)
  • Teaches how to handle a book (print awareness)
  • Cultivates interest and enjoyment in books (print motivation)
  • Being able to describe things (narrative skills)

2.  This book provides opportunities to utilize the Early Literacy-building Parent Practices (see full list of parent practices here):

  • Talking with kids and telling them stories helps them learn to express themselves and conversations.
  • Reading together is “the single most effective way to help children become proficient readers” (Every Child Ready to Read).
  • Playing is a primary way in which children learn language (and this book is a game).

3. This book builds children’s Kindergarten Readiness (see full checklist here).  Children well-prepared for kindergarten are able to:

  • Listen to stories without interrupting
  • Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
  • Show understanding of general times of day
  • Speak understandably
  • Look at pictures and then talk in complete sentences of 5 to 6 words
  • Sort objects by color and shape

4. This book follows Common Core Guidelines (see list here):

  • Maintain a 50/50 balance between fiction and nonfiction (information-focused content).
  • Increase focus on children’s comprehension through dialogic reading. Ask questions before, during and after telling stories.
  • Create a more participatory culture in group programs and classroom settings. Use materials that invite participation and keep learners engaged.

5. This book supports young children’s “emerging mental abilities” by providing opportunities for “key experiences” that strengthen and broaden these abilities (see full list here):

  • Using Language (describing objects verbally, listening to others describe objects, listening to stories being read)
  • Representing (relating pictures to real things)
  • Classification (identifying and labeling attributes – color/shape, noticing and describing how things are the same and how they are different, describing something in several ways, describing what characteristics something does not possess or what class it does not belong to, holding more than one attribute in mind at a time)
  • Temporal Relations (starting and stopping on signal)
  • Spatial Relations (distinguishing and describing shapes)

Significance:  Lemons Are Not Red is praised by many professional review sources, librarians, teachers and parents.  If you are looking for quality nonfiction for programs, check out all Laura Vacarro Seeger’s titles.

Read-alikes:  First the Egg by Laura Vacarro Seeger, Green by Laura Vacarro Seeger, One Boy by Laura Vacarro Seeger, Black? White! Day? Night! by Laura Vacarro Seeger

Links:  Author’s Website  Scholastic  Teaching Ideas  Amazon  

Awards: 2005 ALA Notable Children’s Book Award winner, 2004 Child magazine’s Best Children’s Book Award, 2004 New York Public Library Best Book for Giving and Sharing

Other Reviews:  Goodreads   Kirkus

I chose to review this material because I want to promote the use of nonfiction in storytime.  Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s beguiling die-cut books are nonfiction games that invite participation during programs.

3Make Reading More Fun


Written by Tom Schween, founder of storytimeWOW!