The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher
by Bang, Molly. (Simon and Schuster, 1980 ISBN 0-02-29224) Picture Book. Grades K+.
This book was reviewed by Carol Otis Hurst in Teaching K-8 Magazine.
Having bought a basket of strawberries at the market, the pleasant-looking little lady heads for home. Soon, however, she is being first followed and then openly chased by a long-legged, slightly blue character. The enterprising grey lady eludes the Strawberry Snatcher at every turn. When he is totally frustrated, he discovers a patch of blackberries and so the feast, though separate, is mutual. The illustrations are superb with the grey lady becoming part of the environment thus hiding from the viewer as well as from the strawberry snatcher.
This is a book that bears careful re-examination. Many times, there are before and after pictures of an occurrence without the actual occurence being shown. Readers must decide what has happened here. For instance, we see the Snatcher reaching out for the woman and just about to catch her as they approach a corner. A stately looking woman on a skateboard carries a pail of eels and is coming at the same corner from a different direction. Barely visible at the extreme right edge of the page is a bus. The next page shows the bus departing with the Grey Lady and the Snatcher covered with eels lying on the ground. We must assume that he and the woman with the eels collided enabling the Grey Lady to board the bus.
Several times Bang shows more than one image of the characters on the same spread. Less mature readers may need help seeing this as a technique to show action and that there is only one of each character in the book. There are delicious details for careful lookers: the mushrooms that grow up in the footsteps of the Strawberry Snatcher, for instance.
The artist's use of figure/ground manipulation is central to the plot and can be used as an introduction to other art activities using negative and positive space.