Red (A Crayon’s Story)
Author & Illustrator: Michael Hall
Ages: 4 to 8 years old, Grades P to 3
A pencil tells us the story of a “red” crayon, struggling to find his inner identity.
Buy. This. Book. Okay, now I get to back-in to the review.
I’m going to go ahead and say it. This is a parable masquerading as a children’s book. And, for those that may be slow to catch on, I’m going to tell you the moral up front: don’t look at the external, look at the internal.
The plot is a straight-forward one. A pencil, symbolic in that pencils are generally used to describe everything presented to the eyes, the heart and the mind, tells us the story of a crayon called Red. He is called Red, because he’s wrapped in a red wrapper. But, to anyone who can see beyond the wrappings, he’s a blue crayon with a red label.
Try as he may at being red, he fails time and time again. Ridiculed, criticized, and even “helped;” he just couldn’t be red, try as he may. Whatever he did, came out blue.
Other colors, invariably gave there opinions. Even the art supplies wanted to “help.”
All the art supplies wanted to help.
The masking tape thought he was broken inside.
The scissors thought his label was too tight.
I [the Pencil] thought he wasn’t sharp enough.
And he tried. He really tried. But he was still blue.
One day, he met a crayon named Berry who asked him to draw a blue ocean for a boat. Unsure at first, he did. It was, of course, a great success. Finally acknowledged as Blue, the talk around him shifted. And, he literally reached for the sky.
Red (A Crayon’s Story) sensitively portrays the life of anyone who has ever felt unrecognized as who they truly are.
It is easy to dismiss this book as merely being a ploy of those advancing a transgender agenda (whatever that is) when the truth is, the book is much more. The book is about identity, yes; but, identity is universal. For looking at the internal, rather than the external, is a fundamental moral principle, found even in the New Testament:
…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart….1 Samuel 16:7
Yes, I am usually loathe to point to religion when a humanistic justification will suffice; but the fact remains that religion does buttress the axiom: don’t judge a book by it’s cover. In this case, you’d be doing harm to the book and to society.
Posit for a moment how empty Blue’s world would be if his true blue (pun not intended) identity were not shared with his world–a world without oceans and skies; the gifts he carries within forever lost. And, now reflect on how Blue’s society’s first instinct was to change him, rather than accept him for who he is. I’ll wait. That’s a lot to unpack.
This book is about being different; about how our differences give us gifts that we can use to make the world a better place; and about how the world is better off by recognizing us for who we are, not how we look.
Buy it. Teach your children. <This concludes my Ted Talk.>
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Please, leave comments! I love a HEALTHY exchange of ideas. After all, critical thinking is essential to life.