The Palette of 12 Secret Colors
By Nari Kusakawa
Publisher: CMX
Age Rating: E
Genre: Fantasy/slice of life
Price: $9.99

Rating: ★★★★★

On the island of Opal live the world’s most colorful birds.  The birds have attracted a school for aspiring “Palettes” – wizards who have the ability to borrow color from one object and paint its qualities on to another.  Young Cello has the potential to be a great Palette, but she just can’t seem to control her power.  As the end of freshman year approaches, she’s on the verge of failing, so she’s going to need all the help her bird Yoyo can provide.

The Palette of 12 Secret Colors is the sort of book you would want to read on a summer day.  It’s slice of life approach to Cello’s adventures on a tropical island makes for perfect light reading.  It also makes for excellent reading for younger readers.

For a slice of life title to be good, you have to like the characters you’re following.  Cello, the main character of this story is very likable, and easy to relate to.  She’s an average girl; not too pretty, or too smart, and she doesn’t have any special powers.  She’s an ordinary girl trying her best to pass her final exams.  But, it’s her normal-ness that makes her so appealing.  She’s generally cheerful, with moments of self-depreciation (which usually gets her kicked by her partner bird Yoyo).

Cello’s friends are as down to earth as she is.  She hangs out with Mousse, a fellow classmate and friend.  But she spends most of her time seeing Dr. Guell.  With all of her mishaps with her painting, she ends up in his office often to have the colors removed.  Dr. Guell is low-keyed with a bit of a bite, but Cello knows how to bite back, despite him being her elder.  It’s fun to watch their banter.  Through the course of the volume, they become more like friends, though thankfully, there’s no hint romantic feelings.

Life on Opal does have a little bit of excitement, as the first two chapters show.  The birds on Opal are considered treasures and are very valuable.  Twice, attempts are made to steal the birds, with Cello getting pulled into the middle.  But, like all good heroines, she is also the one to stop the thieves with her unique use of Palette magic.  The final chapter is a sweet story where Cello’s abilities are put to good use as well as giving some background on Dr. Guell.

This title is rated all ages and is perfect for both boys and girls.  There is some action, but no violence.  Even though the protagonist is a girl, she’s isn’t a girly-girl.  While the stories aren’t complicated, they are easily enjoyable to adults.  The simple, uncluttered art style fits well with the story and setting.  It’s a great title to unwind with after a hectic day at school or work.

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