So, what's 'wrong' with this picture? It took me a minute to notice it, but your kids will probably spot it right away.
"Red's factory-applied label clearly says that he is red, but despite the best efforts of his teacher, fellow crayons and art supplies, and family members, he cannot seem to do anything right until a new friend offers a fresh perspective"
As a former teacher, this simple story immediately made me think of kids who learn differently - his teacher decides he just needs more practice, others say he just needs to try harder. Of course, no amount of practice or trying are going to make a blue crayon color things red! When his true talents are revealed, everyone claims to have known it all along.
The story is open-ended enough to be relatable to a child who feels different in any way, though. Adults, for that matter, who have gone through similar struggles in their lives, will find themselves nodding or grimacing at some of the other characters' comments ("The masking tape thought he was broken inside").
In addition to its basic messages - being different is great, being true to yourself - Hall offers bright, colorful illustrations (we are talking about crayons after all), and a great vocabulary lesson (Scarlet! Olive!). Not heavy-handed, a good one to just read aloud and let sink in for a bit, perhaps saving discussion for another time.
**Click here for an earlier review of another Michael Hall book, It's an Orange Aardvark.