It had been sitting on my nightstand for quite some time. I knew I’d have to read it eventually. It should be good, I told myself. It’s a Caldecott Honor book, a children’s book, an innocent story.
But my mind wasn’t innocent as I glanced at my nightstand to see the spine staring at me: “BANG THE GREY LADY AND THE STRAWBERRY SNATCHER”.
Now, I don’t think I have a dirty mind–but I’m not entirely clueless about the slang of the day–so “Bang the grey lady” was just a bit much for my mind to take.
I’d look at it and start laughing–and then sternly reprimand myself for doing so. “Get a grip, Rebekah. That’s the lady’s name. She can’t help it that her last name means something naughty nowadays. Stop laughing.”
I read Molly Bang’s other picture books: One Fall Day, Ten, Nine, Eight, The Paper Crane, When Molly Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry…, In My Heart, and My Light I liked them. I liked the colorful illustrations–some painted or drawn, others photographs of three dimensional murals. I liked the way Bang used language. I liked the gentle, everyday yet not quite everyday nature of her stories. I liked them.
So I opened Bang the gray lady—
Except that’s not the title. So “Bang” and “The Grey Lady” run together on the spine. That doesn’t mean they’re both the title.
I opened The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher, still chuckling over the spine and berating myself for my sophomoric sense that just WOULDN’T give up.
And I absolutely hated it.
How did this thing win a Caldecott?
It’s a wordless book about a bright blue Strawberry Snatcher who wears a Red and Green cape and a purple hat. He chases after the gray lady, trying to snatch her strawberries. The problem is, the Gray Lady (since she IS gray) keeps disappearing into the dusk.
Then the Strawberry Snatcher is diverted by a bramble of raspberries. The Grey Lady returns home to her family and enjoys the strawberries with them. The end.
I wasn’t impressed. Not with the story, not with the illustrations, not with the way “BANG” ran together with “The Grey Lady” on the spine. This is a book I’m not picking up again.
For more comments on children’s books, see the rest of my Reading My Library posts or check out Carrie’s blog Reading My Library, which chronicles her and her children’s trip through the children’s section of their local library.