Tony Porto (1960-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1960, in Evergreen Park, IL; Education: Illinois Institute of Technology, B.S. (visual design), 1982.
Office— Three Communication Design, 4507 N. Ravenswood, Suite 105, Chicago, IL 60640.
Three Communication Design (graphic design firm), Chicago, IL, founding partner, 1989—; writer.
Get Red!: An Adventure in Color, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.
Blue Aliens!: An Adventure in Color, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2003.
A third book in the series that began with Get Red!, titled Chicken Yellow.
Tony Porto is a member of a Chicago-based partnership that includes Mitch Rice and Glenn Deutsch. Together, Porto, Rice, and Deutsch founded Three Communication Design, a graphic arts company with a focus on educational publishing. Get Red!: An Adventure in Color and Blue Aliens: An Adventure in Color are collaborative efforts, but Porto is responsible for the text in both volumes. Critics consider these works cleverly humorous concept books that celebrate the many appearances of color in nature and culture.
In Get Red! a narrator who does not appear introduces readers to a talking red crayon who helps to get all sorts of class projects done. Unfortunately, the crayon is dwindling in size, and as it does its temper gets short. Just when the crayon is needed the most—to color a drawing of the planet Mars—it disappears. The narrator must employ psychology to persuade the crayon to give its all for the sake of a class project. In addition to the plot, readers are treated to facts about the color red and photographs of red objects. Through the book, suggested Lynda Ritterman in School Library Journal, youngsters "are made aware of the uses of the color in art and nature." Ritterman found Get Red! "attractive" and "imaginative." A Publishers Weekly critic likewise praised "this creative team's eye for arresting photos and design."
"I suppose you could say that the idea for Get Red! was 'born' . . . at Three Communications Design," Porto told SATA. "My 3CD partners (Mitch Rice and Glenn Deutsch) and I decided that it would be lots of fun to design a children's book with a bunch of pictures that had only one thing in common—color. So we set about collecting images and interesting facts to go along with them. But no matter how big the pile of images grew, it always seemed incomplete. It eventually occurred to us that we needed a story to hold everything together. Ya see, we're graphic designers, we tend to get excited by visual things first.
"So anyway, I took a crack at writing the story. I really enjoyed making both the kid and his crayon a couple of smart-alecks since I'm kind of a smart-alecky guy myself.
"Oh yeah, at some point along the way, we decided not to let the reader see what the kid in the story looks like. We wanted to keep the attention on all the neat red stuff. Besides, he's pretty goofy, and we couldn't get a picture of him with a clean shirt on and his hair combed."
The same "goofy" kid carries the story in Blue Aliens! Having watched a movie about aliens who eat anything green, the frightened narrator convinces himself that blue aliens must be eating all the blue objects missing in the world. The hungry aliens steal the blue-lined paper and threaten a schoolteacher, Mrs. Sapphire, who loves blue eyeshadow and blue earrings. Marianne Saccardi in School Library Journal noted that readers "will be delightfully 'grossed out'" by the imaginative illustrations. Saccardi concluded that "the alien subject matter will . . . draw readers in."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Publishers Weekly, August 5, 2002, review of Get Red!: An Adventure in Color, p. 72; November 17, 2003, "Favorite Characters Return," p. 67.
School Library Journal, October, 2002, Lynda Ritterman, review of Get Red!, p. 126; November, 2003, Marianne Saccardi, review of Blue Aliens!: An Adventure in Color, p. 113.
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