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Let My Colors Out by Courtney Filigenzi and Shennen Bersani

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Updated September 27, 2010

Let My Colors Out by Courtney Filigenzi and Shennen Bersani

Let My Colors Out by Courtney Filigenzi and Shennen Bersani

Art © American Cancer Society

The Bottom Line

"Let My Colors Out" would work best when read to and discussed with children aged 4 to 8. By the clever use of six bright colors, children can match a color with an emotion they need to express. The parent can understand and validate the emotion, making a safe place for their child to let their feelings out. The text and illustrations complement each other perfectly - the small boy and his parents that demonstrate how colors and emotions go together are very believable. Parents and children can use this book, with its wonderful pop-up ending, to discover and discuss how they are feeling during cancer treatment.


  • Easy text and authentically illustrated emotions convey the story and emotions perfectly.
  • Complex emotions match up with colors, emotional expression is made clear.
  • Colors of the illustrations are appealing and carry the text forward.
  • Very durable book with heavy pages, will endure many readings.
  • Characters are believable and children can easily identify with them.


  • Book would be more useful if accompanied by a guide for parents.


  • Author: Courtney Filigenzi
  • Publisher: Shennen Bersani
  • ISBN-10: 1604430117
  • Copyright: 2009
  • List price: $11.95
  • Book Details: Hardback, 16 heavy board pages
  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Award: Gold Recipient, Mom's Choice Awards 2010, Children's Picture Book: Growing Up/Personal Growth
  • Award: National Health Information Award Silver, 2010

Guide Review - Let My Colors Out by Courtney Filigenzi and Shennen Bersani

Have you ever had a purple day? Felt orange, yellow, or red? Children can match colors with emotions and use those colors to express emotions when words won't convey all that they feel. When the parent of a young child is diagnosed with breast cancer, they experience a wide palette of emotions, which may change frequently. Children don't always understand what cancer is, nor why the treatments are so draining on their parent, and they may respond by acting out or withdrawing. Parents don't always know how to help their children express their emotions at a diagnosis of cancer, but a new award-winning book, "Let My Colors Out" can help kids from four to eight years old identify, deal with, and accept their feelings.

"Let My Colors Out" was written by Courtney Filigenzi, charmingly illustrated by Shennen Bersani and produced by the American Cancer Society. When asked how Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief influenced her book, Filigenzi said, "I found that colors simplified very complex emotions - making it easier for children to express themselves. Many children have become the silent victims of this horrific disease because they were scared to express themselves. I want families to learn that no matter how old or how young you are, when your family is facing a difficult time, everyone will have the same fears, hopes and feelings. As a family unit, you need to bond and talk about those feelings, so you can grow together from the experience."

Illustrator Shennen Bersani had that family experience while she was working on this book. She is a one-year thyroid cancer survivor. While in the hospital after a car wreck, an MRI disclosed a nodule on her thyroid. Her cancer had been growing while she was working on "Let My Colors Out" and her four children experienced the emotions that she portrays in the book. Bersani had a complete thyroidectomy, and went on to illustrate a second book with the American Cancer Society, "Nana, What's Cancer?" She has illustrated 12 books for children, three of which cover cancer-related themes.

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