November 1 – 7
This is the story of the Switzer brothers and how they discovered bright new colors. Meet Joe and Bob, two brothers who start out with different dreams for their future, but end up uniting over their passion to discover a way to make glow-in-the-dark colors come to life during the day. This nonfiction book explains the basic mechanics of fluorescence and how it has been used in the world since the brothers became famous for their Day-Glo colors.
Barton, C. (2009). The Day-Glo brothers. Watertown, Mass.: Charlesbridge.
I absolutely loved the use of fluorescent colors in the illustrations. I have to admit that at first I was tempted to try holding the book up in the dark to see if maybe they tossed some glow-in-the-dark elements, but I was able to hold myself back. I really was impressed with Barton's dedication to getting this story as accurate as possible by his thorough communications with the surviving Switzer family and their mementos from Joe and Bob. I actually learned a lot about how fluorescent colors work.
From Kirkus Reviews:
The Switzer brothers were complete opposites. Older brother Bob was hardworking and practical, while younger brother Joe was carefree and full of creative, wacky ideas. However, when an unexpected injury forced Bob to spend months recovering in a darkened basement, the two brothers happened upon an illuminating adventure--the discovery of Day- Glo colors. These glowing paints were used to send signals in World War II, help airplanes land safely at night and are now found worldwide in art and advertisements (not to mention the entire decade of 1980s fashion). Through extensive research, including Switzer family interviews and Bob's own handwritten account of events, debut author Barton brings two unknown inventors into the brilliant light they deserve. Persiani, in his picture-book debut as well, first limits the palette to grayscale, then gradually increases the use of color as the brothers' experiments progress. The final pages explode in Day-Glo radiance. Rendered in 1950s-cartoon style, with bold lines and stretched perspectives, these two putty-limbed brothers shine even more brightly than the paints and dyes they created. (author's note, endnotes) (Picture book/biography. 4-8). 44pg. VNU EMEDIA, c2009.
[Review of The Day-Glo Brothers]. (2009 June 15). Kirkus Reviews, pp 653.
From Publishers Weekly:
Ages 7-10. In this debut for both collaborators, Barton takes on the dual persona of popular historian and cool science teacher as he chronicles the Switzer brothers' invention of the first fluorescent paint visible in daylight. The aptly named Day-Glo, he explains, started out as a technological novelty act (Joe, an amateur magician, was looking for ways to make his illusions more exciting), but soon became much more: during WWII, one of its many uses was guiding Allied planes to safe landings on aircraft carriers. The story is one of quintessentially American ingenuity, with its beguiling combination of imaginative heroes ('Bob focused on specific goals, while Joe let his freewheeling mind roam every which way when he tried to solve a problem'), formidable obstacles (including, in Bob's case, a traumatic accident), a dash of serendipity and entrepreneurial zeal. Persiani's exuberantly retro 1960s drawings--splashed with Day-Glo, of course-- bring to mind the goofy enthusiasm of vintage educational animation and should have readers eagerly following along as the Switzers turn fluorescence into fame and fortune. (July). 44pg. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2009.
[Review of The Day-Glo Brothers]. (2009 June 29). Publishers Weekly, pp 129.
From School Library Journal:
Gr 4-6--Before 1935, fluorescent colors did not exist. Barton discusses how two brothers worked together to create the eye-popping hues. Joe Switzer figured out that using a black light to create a fluorescent glow could spruce up his magic act, so the brothers built an ultraviolet lamp. They began to experiment with various chemicals to make glow-in- the-dark paints. Soon Joe used fluorescent-colored paper costumes in his act and word got around. Through trial and error, the brothers perfected their creation. The story is written in clear language and includes whimsical cartoons. While endpapers are Day-Glo bright, most of the story is illustrated in black, white, gray, and touches of color, culminating in vivid spreads. Discussions on regular fluorescence and daylight fluorescence are appended. This unique book does an excellent job of describing an innovative process.--Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI. Unpg. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2009.
Callaghan, A.C. (2009 August 1). [Review of The Day-Glo Brothers]. School Library Journal, pp 118.
Library Setting Uses:
For this book, I recommend a program for older elementary school children where after talking about the book, the adult facilitator will show the students the demonstration on fluorescence from the website provided in the back of the book (http://www.charlesbridge.com/day-glo-animation.html). Then, allow the students to use blacklight/glow-in-the-dark paints to draw pictures and designs on pieces of poster board.