The old saw about green being poisonous came to light a few years ago when Harper's produced this magazine cover:
like crazy, man. Slate.com's subsequent article about it (credit: Julia Turner) sheds some light on why and how the "ix-nay on the een-gray" rule probably got started--and gives us a hint as to why it persists. Some highlights:
- "One man who helped perpetuate the myth was Alexander Liberman, the domineering Ukraine-born painter and sculptor who served as Condé Nast's editorial director from 1962 to 1994. According to one designer who worked with him, Liberman was prone to repeating, 'Green is death on the newsstand!'"
- "'. . . some retailers speculate that the fluorescent bulbs in stores cast a yellow light that washes out newsstand greens and gives them a feeble, bluish cast.'" -- says one magazine design consultant
- ""Like brown, [green] can be tricky to control on press and either one can migrate in the baby poop direction if the printer isn't careful.'" --suggests an assistant managing editor of Newsweek
But is the maxim true for kids' books? I had to know. In a jiffy, I was off to Big Box Bookshop to see if there are any green covers on kids books. (I respectfully skipped picture books, which don't seem to suffer from no-green stigma, as illustrated above.) Here's a random sampling of just a few on the shelves right now:
Love, Aubrey (Wendy Lamb, 2009)
The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O-Connor (FSG, 2009) (read a recent review from the excelsior file) It's half green.
Green by Laura Peyton Roberts (Delacorte, 2010) A leprechaun-based novel.
The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge (HarperCollins, 2009)
Mind you, green was by no means prominent, but there was a healthy dose mixed in with all the black and purple. There were even some green covers on "big people" books that weren't about gardening or golf.