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Picture Book Look

Red A Crayon’s Story

The inside cover of Red says, “This is a story about a crayon I know. I wrote it for you.” The inside of the jacket was written by a pencil.  Thus begins the touching, imaginative story of a crayon whose label says red, but whose actual color is blue.

No matter how hard Red tried to draw red strawberries, they always came out blue. So did the hearts he drew and even the cherries! His friends weren’t very understanding. They thought he was lazy. They thought he wasn’t very bright. They even thought he needed to apply himself harder. Everyone had an opinion, and everyone had a plan to “fix” Red. “Maybe he needs more practice,” thought his teacher. “Maybe he just needs to mix with other colors,” thought his mom. The masking tape thought he was broken inside.

Eventually Red meets a new friend. One who asks him to make a blue ocean, but Red replies, “I can’t. I’m red.” The friend encourages him to try and the results are fabulous! And guess what? It was easy for Red to make a blue ocean! He went on to make bluebirds, and blue jeans and blueberries. . .

I love this story. It is humorous and clever and I always like humorous, clever stuff. More importantly, this story could be about any child with learning disabilities. Like my child. My son heard all  the same things Red did. Try harder. Your’e lazy. You aren’t very bright. When Red goes off the page after not being able to make the red light in the stop light, I felt his sorrow and confusion. Sorrow over not being able to do what others think he should be able to do, and confusion because he doesn’t know what he was made to do.

You may be thinking, “Oh my gosh. This is a picture book for crying out loud,” and you’d be right. Except that this is one of those special picture books that I think should be placed in every school library there is. Preschool to high school. Picture books in high school? Yes. I believe picture books have the ability to speak to everyone, and this is one of those books that I hope finds its way into the hands of thousands and thousands of special children (and educators) all over the world.

Michael Hall is the author/illustrator of Red A Crayon’s Story, along with My Heart Is Like a Zoo, a New York Times bestseller. He has authored other picture books as well. Mr. Hall can be found on the web at michaelhallstudio.com.

 

 

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Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match, Marisol McDonald no combina

By Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios. Published by Lee & Low Books.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match (translations in Spanish) Marisol McDonald no combina, is an encouraging and empowering book for children who just don’t match. Match what? You might ask. Match anything, I would answer.

Marisol’s cousin tells her her hair color (orange) doesn’t go with the color of her skin (brown). Her brother tells her the clothes she has picked to wear (polka dots and stripes) don’t match. The teacher at school tells Marisol she can’t combine cursive and print when writing her name. Yes, everyone is quick to squash Marisol’s individuality, and soon she decides it’s time to match everyone’s expectations. But things don’t go so well. Her food is all mushy, playground games aren’t any fun and even art class is boring! Marisol comes to realize it’s okay to be herself. . .even if that means being different.

I wish there had been books like this when I was a child growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, because since the age of eight, I haven’t matched anyone either. And like Marisol, I had experiences where people pointed out my differences too. . .And there are children today who don’t match either and they need books like this to tell them it’s okay to be different!

Monica Brown wrote Marisol Doesn’t Match because she is multiracial and has also been told that she “doesn’t match.” But like Marisol, she knows better. Sara Palacios did the artwork for the book and it’s very creative. I especially love the way she used mixed media to illustrate the story. The book earned a Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor Award for Ms. Palacios’s work, and a place on the Children’s Notable List, 2012.

 

 

 

 

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