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Dawn Goldworm Writes a Scented Children’s Book

The book, which aims to educate children on scent, launches this week.

Dawn Goldworm may rely on her nose professionally, but now, she’s trying her hand at something new.

The scent designer and industry veteran has written a children’s book about scent, which launched this week. Published by Penguin Random House and called “The Smell of a Rainbow,” the scented picture book aims to educate children about scent.

“We understand that the world uses and experiences scent in so many ways that people really don’t understand or consciously know,” Goldworm said. “In childhood, that’s where that starts, your whole basis for your olfactory preferences are from childhood.”

Goldworm added that neurologically speaking, color made the most sense for teaching kids about scent, given that scent and color are processed in similar parts of the brain.

“Color is the only mechanism, or the only language, if you can call it that, that passes into the part of the brain that understands scent an emotion. It’s really the way we communicate how we smell — it’s through color,” she said.

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To that end, each of the book’s pages represent different colors of the rainbow, and each is scented to mimic olfactory associations with that color. For example, the green page is scented to imitate freshly cut grass.

“You have so many touch points with smell, from the smell of your mother to the smell of your baby products, sun tan lotion, et cetera,” Goldworm added. “We had to think of the most positive, colorful ingredients because we wanted the book to be about joy.”

The microcapsule technology is a 21st century answer to scratch-and-sniff books, which Goldworm said is the first of its kind for children’s books.

“When you open the book, the capsules break on their own, so the pages are already scented,” Goldworm said. “If you do decide to rub it or scratch it, you just get more of a smell, but you don’t have to. And over time, as you keep turning the pages, it just gets more scented, since kids love to read things over again.”

Despite its brevity — the book concludes in 14 pages — the regulatory landscape on children’s toys posed some hurdles for Goldworm.

“From a safety and compliance regulatory perspective, we had the entire perfumer’s palette cut down to a fraction of its size, which is very tiny,” she said. For the color green, for example, posed the most challenges. “It’s my favorite because it was so hard to do — the traditional ingredients we’d use to create green fragrances weren’t allowed, so we had to figure out how to get the smell of freshly cut grass.”

Even for adults, Goldworm said the book’s fragrances rekindle childhood associations with certain colors. “You smell these different things that you wouldn’t necessarily put together, but they document all the good memories we have from childhood related to color,” she added.


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