The Day-Glo Brothers

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
The Day-Glo Brothers Book Poster Image
Eye-popping biography of inventive brothers.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Does an admirable job explaining how the men invented Day-Glo, and the back pages offer a fuller explanation of both regular and daylight fluorescence.

Positive Messages

This is a fun look at the process of invention: Experimentation and curiosity play a big part in the Switzers’ story. This also shows how two very different people -- Bob worked during the day and was very goal-oriented; Joe worked at night and was much less rigid -- were able to combine their talents to work together.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Switzer brothers come through as creative men who worked through adversity (Bob’s accident, the Great Depression), setting aside their early dreams to follow new opportunity -- and, in the end, fulfilling those early dreams after all.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know there is nothing of concern in this fascinating story of the invention of new colors. There is brief discussion of how Day-Glo was used in World War II, but the focus is very positive (guiding planes to landings, sending signals, etc.).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 and 10-year-old Written byJojano August 21, 2011

Positive message & colorful illustrations, but didn't hold attention of my children

I got this book from the library by recommendation from this website. I'd give it 3-4 stars. My 10 year old really liked this book and found it interesti... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old January 18, 2010


I think it is a good book because it tells people interesting things. It gives interesting facts about fluorescent colors, and light.

What's the story?

The Switzer brothers didn’t set out to be inventors. Joe wanted to be a magician and Bob dreamed of being a doctor. But a debilitating accident, a dose of curiosity, and a streak of creativity led to their development of Day-Glo paint -- bold colors that glow even in daylight. At first, their fluorescent paint only worked in ultraviolet light. It was several more years before they developed Fire Orange -- paint that glowed in both daylight and ultraviolet light. Their invention was quickly put to use for rescue and safety operations in World War II, and it then became part of American life, from artwork to dump trucks to detergent boxes. This biography shows how two very different men together invented a brand new color.

Is it any good?

First-time author Chris Barton blends well-informed biography, history, and science into a delightful story that will delight curious kids, young artists, and budding scientists. Kids will appreciate getting to know the inventors as young boys and giggle at the lighthearted moments -- like the vaguely fluorescent cake their mom accidentally made. Kids who are thirsty for more will appreciate the notes on how fluorescence works. And the author’s note, about how he explored the Switzers’ story, is almost as engaging as the book itself.

Tony Persiani’s illustrations, evoking the ‘50s and ‘60s, open the book in shades of gray and erupt in a riot of glowing color as the Switzers’ creation catches on.

Funky, mid-century-style cartoon illustrations depict a mostly black-and-white world until the Switzers begin to play with fluorescent colors.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different ways Day-Glo colors are used. Where have you seen them used? What would you do with Day-Glo colors?

  • The Switzers invented new colors that had never been seen before. Can you think of colors you’d want to invent?

  • Some of the brothers’ biggest breakthroughs occurred accidentally. Have you ever made an accidental discovery?

  • Joe and Bob had very different approaches to their work. Joe worked at night with a free-association approach; Bob worked during the day and pursued set goals. Which style appeals more to you?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love biographies and sibling stories

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