Moral Issues in: "One"

By Tori Hamilton, Children's Associate, Glenpool Library

In "One" by Kathryn Otoshi, colors come to life. Blue, a quiet color, is constantly picked on by Red. Though the other colors see the mistreatment, no one speaks up. But every time Red is mean, he grows bigger and bigger. Soon, Red is so big that all the colors are afraid of him. Red's bullying only stops when One comes along and teaches the colors to stand up for themselves.

Though the illustrations consist entirely of simple bright colors against a white background, it's amazing how much emotion the story manages to covney. The text focuses on emotional words, describing the colors' feelings so that the readers can identify with them even though the colors have no facial expressions, while the colors themselves are portrayed as dynamic spots whose lines shrink and expand in response to those feelings.

And there are a lot of feelings to consider here, some of them quite complicated for such a brief story. Blue has done nothing to deserve Red's bullying. The other colors quite like Blue, yet none of them acts to stop the abuse, showing how even when someone knows that something is wrong, sometimes it's hard to find the courage to speak up. It's also important to note that Red is not portrayed as a villain here. At the end, the other colors accept him back into their group when he is remorseful for his actions and it is Blue himself who urges their forgiveness.

"One" show that one person can make a difference, that children have the power to speak up against bullying, to forgive and befriend, and that children who may not realize their actions are bullying or hurtful have the power to change.

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