The Day-Glo Brothers Cover Image

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors
illustrated by Tony Persiani

A 2010 Sibert Honor Book

Named one of the best children's books of 2009 by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, The Washington Post, and the Bank Street College of Education

Other Reviews & Honors * Downloadable Cover * Other Books Citing This One * Other Links

You know those fluorescent oranges and yellows and greens that you see every day on traffic cones, safety vests, highlighters, and so on?

A hundred years ago, those colors didn't even exist.

The Day-Glo Brothers is the story of the guys who invented those colors while they were in their teens and 20s back during the Depression and World War II.

It all started with a magic act and an accident at the ketchup factory...

Buy it from your favorite local, independent bookstore!

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View an animated explanation of how Day-Glo works and download the activity and discussion guide!

48 pages
Ages 7-10
Charlesbridge Publishing
ISBN: 978-1570916731


Other Reviews & Honors

Reading Is Fundamental
2012-2013 STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) Multicultural Book Collection

Children's Crown Award
2011-2012 Winner

Illinois School Library Media Association
2013 Bluestem Award Masterlist

Association of Indiana School Library Educators
2011-12 Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee - Intermediate

New York State Reading Association
2012 Charlotte Award Suggested Reading List - Primary

Oregon Reader's Choice Award
2011-2012 Nominee, Junior Division

Sequoyah Book Award (Oklahoma Library Association)
2011-2012 Children's Masterlist

Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards (Pennsylvania School Libraries Association)
2011-2012 Grades 3-6 Masterlist

Land Of Enchantment Book Award (New Mexico Library Association and the New Mexico Council of the International Reading Association)
2010-2011 Picture Book Nominee

Maine Student Book Award (Maine Library Association, Maine Association of School Libraries, and the Maine Reading Association)
2010-2011 Reading List

Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (Cybils)
2009 Winner - Picture Book (Non-Fiction)

Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
2010 Notable Children's Books - Middle Readers

International Reading Association (IRA) and Children's Book Council (CBC)
2010 Children's Choices

New York Public Library
Children's Books 2009 - 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

The New York Times
It's a story in color and about color ... illustrated with tremendous Pop Art verve. [Read an alternate view from my five-year-old son.]

The Washington Post
Barton clearly and crisply explains how the two young men managed to work together despite the fact that one wanted to be a magician and the other a physician. ... This engaging picture book makes a bright idea stand out even more.

School Library Journal
*Starred Review* The story is written in clear language and includes whimsical cartoons. ... This unique book does an excellent job of describing an innovative process.

Publishers Weekly
*Starred Review* Barton takes on the dual persona of popular historian and cool science teacher. ... The story is one of quintessentially American ingenuity, with its beguiling combination of imaginative heroes, formidable obstacles, a dash of serendipity and entrepreneurial zeal.

Kirkus Reviews
*Starred Review* Barton brings two unknown inventors into the brilliant light they deserve. ... The final pages explode in Day-Glo radiance. Rendered in 1950s-cartoon style ... these two putty-limbed brothers shine even more brightly than the paints and dyes they created.

ALA Booklist
Organizing his material well and writing with a sure sense of what will interest children, Barton creates a picture book that celebrates ingenuity and invention.

[This] enlightening story ... shows how basement tinkering can lead to scientific discovery.

Boing Boing
The world needs more fun history books like this!

The Day-Glo Brothers really shines.

Author Liz Garton Scanlon (All the World)
[T]his book is so interesting and so charming and so gosh-darn poppy-hipster looking that it just made me wish I could hang out with Bob and Joe Switzer -- the guys who invented Day-Glo. And I think that's what a good biography's supposed to do.

A Fuse #8 Production
Barton brings us what is pretty much the world's first biography of the inventors of Day-Glo colors. And what better format to use than the picture book? ... This is Barton's first work of non-fiction. With his extensive research skills and way with words, I hope that it is safe to say that it won't be his last.

AARP The Magazine Online Extra
Brothers Joe and Bob Switzer, the inventors of Day-Glo paint, may be unlikely subjects for a picture-book biography. But their story -- one of American ingenuity and determination -- is as illuminating as the neon hues they developed.

Abby (the) Librarian
It's books like The Day-Glo Brothers that remind me why I love nonfiction picture books and particularly picture book biographies. The book is the perfect amount of information on a subject that I never would have thought to wonder about. Add brilliant illustrations that pair perfectly with the text and you've got a delightful reading experience.

Cleveland Area History
When I drove by the Day-Glo building, at East 45th and St. Clair Avenue this past winter ... I was sure that there had to be a story there. ... Chris Barton does an excellent job of telling the story. Tony Persiani's illustrations are stellar, fully utilizing Day-Glo colors to illustrate the story in an utterly compelling manner. This approach to illustrating science and invention definitely raises the bar.

Dr. Quinn's Book Blog
Barton does a fantastic job taking the reader through the life and times of the Switzer brothers. ... Persiani's retro illustrations are "highlighted" with various day-glo colors. Even the end pages use these electric colors to support this fun and informative book. I definitely recommend this book.

[A] quintessential American [story] that will remind readers that hard work and some serious garage (or basement) inventing is to a large degree what this country is made of. ... This is a perfect marriage of subject, story and illustration and should be read by any curious child over the age of seven or eight.

the excelsior file
[T]his is a great book on a fascinating subject that I think would have a lot of appeal, especially for boys. ... I'm left wanting more. In a good way.

For Immediate Release Reviews - Kids
Sometimes it can be difficult to find a non-fiction children's book that can be both educational and entertaining. And even then, most of these are typically about animals or nature. Finding one about an everyday household item is even more unusual. Meet the Day-Glo Brothers.

I was fascinated by the tale of these brothers, but perhaps even more impressed by the author�s original research on the topic.

National Science Teachers Association Recommends
A fast-paced biography of two brother scientists/inventors in a field ... that is rarely covered in trade books or biographies.

Parent:Wise Austin
[F]ew of us have ever heard of Bob and Joe Switzer, although we see the results of their ingenuity around us every day. ... The text is filled with funny stories about the Switzers' experimentation.

Pink Me
If I had a checklist of Things To Look For In Kid Nonfiction (and I kind of do), every box would be checked. ... As befits a mid-century success story, the illustrations are swingy and hep. ... The Day-Glo Brothers is a real winner.

The Plain Dealer
Eye-popping color ushers the reader into some fascinating biography and science.

Reading Rockets
Summer 2009 Recommended Books for 6-9 Year Olds

Simply Science
It's hard to imagine a world without the Day-Glo colors in shocking greens, blazing oranges, and screaming yellows. But before World War II, those colors didn't exist. This fascinating picture book, chock full of well-explained information, traces the invention of Day-Glo paint and the two men who developed it.

Waking Brain Cells
The book is written in a style that is inviting and intelligent. It offers lots of background information on the brothers, understanding that part of the fascination is with the inventors themselves along with their flashy colors. The illustrations work to great effect with their vintage advertising style and effective use of bright colors.


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