A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Red: A Crayon's Story, by bestselling picture-book author Michael Hall, is a completely fresh and fun take on the shopworn moral "be yourself." Red is a crayon who, notwithstanding his name, is clearly blue. Though he tries to draw cherries and hearts and the other crayons cheer him on in well-meaning ways, everything he draws comes out blue. Infused with emotional smarts and empathy, this story celebrates diversity and difference in all its forms.
What's the story?
Red is a crayon whose label reads "Red," so he's encouraged to draw fire engines, strawberries, and hearts. But somehow, his art always turns out blue. The other crayons offer well-meaning suggestions, then line up with an array of opinions: He has to press harder, he came that way from the factory, maybe he's not sharp enough, maybe he's broken -- will tape help? Still, "even with all our help and all his hard work, he just couldn't get the hang of it." Then one day, a friend asks him to make a blue ocean. Reluctantly, he tries and succeeds: "I'm blue!" Which now makes sense not only to him but to all the other crayons ("My son is brilliant," "I always said he was blue"). And now he can reach for the (very blue) sky!
Is it any good?
The moral "be yourself" abounds in children's books; in unskilled hands, the story can be colorless and stripped of meaning, but this is a completely fresh, kid-friendly take on the subject. Kids can see right away that Red is blue. And they'll relate when the other crayons (read: parents, teachers, peers) push him in ways that, though seemingly helpful and well-intentioned, feel uncomfortable and untrue to self.
The art is graphic and bright, the storytelling smart, and the emotion surprisingly affecting. Kids can take the message to heart, and the book can spur a family discussion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about differences. How are some of your friends different from one another? Do you ever expect people to act in certain ways?
How does the author make a crayon seem like a person with feelings and personality? What about the art makes you understand how Red is feeling?
What's your favorite color? Why?
- Author: Michael Hall
- Illustrator: Michael Hall
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books
- Publication date: February 3, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 8
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: March 07, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.