The Day-Glo Brothers Book Poster Image

The Day-Glo Brothers



Eye-popping biography of inventive brothers.

What parents need to know

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

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
Not applicable

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.).

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Chris Barton
Illustrator:Tony Persiani
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Charlesbridge Publishing
Publication date:July 1, 2009
Number of pages:44
Publisher's recommended age(s):7 - 9

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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 other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
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 interesting. My 8 year old, however, thought it was "just fine." She didn't love it; not sure that she was interested enough to even read all of the words. I did read all of the words but I understand her opinion. I liked how the story tells of the brothers having to try and try again to achieve their goal. A quote from the book by one of the brothers: "If just one experiment out of a thousand succeeds, then you're ahead of the game." That is, indeed, a positive message that our children could benefit from learning. I also really liked the simple yet colorful pictures.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages