This was one of my holiday exchange books and my second time reading Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall. Being able to read it again, I was able to see things I missed before. It had more charm for me this time around. And this second read helped me compare it to other books of the same theme. The first time around reading Hall’s picture book, the subject was new to the scene and felt abrasive. While I am still not a hundred percent a fan of the art, the story grew on me as did the illustrations.
Red takes a hot-button topic (you can interpret to mean the character is trans or queer in another way or even nontraditional neurological) and takes some of the punch out of it (by using crayons and not people) but still getting the message across (it does not matter what is on your label, it is what is inside that really counts). Red is a different kind of crayon. They do not feel Red and it shows. However, people (read other crayons) do try and help and suggest ways for Red to become Red. That is, until someone realizes Red is not Red after all. And this shows Red who they really are.
The part that I like is the realism. People/the crayons (seemly with good intent) do try and help Red “fit in.” And for the most part, the characters are not cruel, just not completely understanding the situation. There is humor, but it is also serious. The art looks like a souped-up crayon drawing. They are simple, even simplistic, but not in any negative way. They are muted, but solid colors and give the context of the story nicely.