Thursday, March 19, 2015

Red: a Crayon's Story

The other day I received this wonderful gift at a Publisher's Display Day:

What a treat! Reminiscent of Drew Daywalt's The Day the Crayons Quit, but with it's very own individual punch, this one is a real winner!

The reader immediately notices from the cover that something is not right. Students made interesting predictions about what went wrong, and what will happen in the pages of the story. Which is right? the label, or the colour that we see? 

Frustration, self-doubt, concern, impatience, and ridicule ensue when Red Crayon fails to produce the expected red drawings, and colours blue. Some have advice for him. He needs to press harder. He's broken inside. His label is too tight. Others offer support and hope. Give him time, he'll catch on. It is only when he meets Berry, a crayon who recognizes his true blue character, that Red realizes he is Blue! 

This delightful new picture book can be enjoyed and discussed on many levels. Very young readers love the crayon characters and want to know about the more exotic names like Cocoa Bean and Hazelnut. Astute readers appreciated the word-play humour: he needs to really apply himself; and the fact that the grandparents are named Silver and Grey. My grade two students easily made the jump to the importance of being true to oneself. Older students talked about the damage that labels can cause. Not only does Red present the issue of accepting differences, but it offers a hopeful response that everyone can get behind.

Red: a crayon's story by Michael Hall. Published by Greenwillow Books (an imprint of HarpersCollins), 2015.