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- Jose Lucio, self-published author of Heave Ho!


The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher (1984)

Written and Illustrated by Molly Bang

Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Well, my first ever contest has a winner. Dear Natalie Bleu has won herself a free copy of The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman. You may recall, the contest was only this: to tell me the scariest picture book you've ever read. It is no coincidence that Halloween is around the corner.

I was actually not familiar with Natalie's choice, The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher. It doesn't look particularly frightening, does it? It kind of looks like one of those Lois Ehlert books for pres-schoolers to learn the names of fruits. This, however, is what Natalie wrote:

"A wordless picture book about a grey lady purchasing some strawberries at a market and being spied on and followed by a cloaked creature who has an affinity for strawberries... an affinity so strong that he chases her through towns and forests for her strawberries, dodging danger all in the name of delicious fruit. The artwork is really beautiful and so adventurous that absolutely no words are needed in this story... but I am not even lying when I say that the premise of being chased by a creature (especially one who looks like The Strawberry Snatcher) terrified me well into my teen years. Thanks, mom and dad."

I found a nice essay by Molly Bang describing the creation of this book. She writes, in part: "When the book came out, many of the reviews were pretty bad. I remember one from the New York Times that said that the weird-looking characters and flashy colors were an indication that I was part of the drug culture."

There are also some great reviews on Amazon of this book written by very concerned parents. One mother wrote, "When we read it, he seemed okay, but twenty minutes after lights out, we heard him crying. My husband went in to see what was wrong, and little Tommy said, "Daddy, the strawberry book is scary. Put it in jail."

Wow, I have to find a copy of this book!

Do you have a favorite spooky children's book? Let me know!

1 comment:

  1. That illustration of the gray lady fleeing and the creature in pursuit is fantastic!


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