Red: A Crayon’s Story is Provocative Children’s Book

Red by Michael Hall
I love a  good children’s picture book. I love opening the book to read a new story and share with my children. My all time favorites are ones that have themes relevant for adults too. I’m not just talking about being funny. You know the ones that have clever jokes that are above the heads of the little ones, but the parents get? No, sometimes books have greater themes tucked deep into a children’s book that are meant for the adults. We need to be reminded. We need to have conversation starters for our kids.

What greater way than through a picture book that can be shared?

There are a few of these books that I absolutely love — for me. Themes that I need to be reminded of.  Incredible You is one of those books that I’ve written about before. It’s such an inspirational book teaching us how to believe in ourselves. It’s a book to be read and reread. It also makes a great graduation gift. I know, silly, right? Giving a high school graduate a picture book, but let me tell you, these stories resonate with people. Why not give an adult a picture book?

This week I received a copy of Red by Michael Hall. Hall is the author of The Orange Aardvark that I wrote about last year. Love that book. It’s sweet and funny. But it’s more truly a children’s book.

His new book is about a crayon — a red crayon that is mislabeled. Red, the main character, is a blue crayon in a red crayon wrapper. Mislabled.

The crayon’s parents can’t figure out what’s wrong. His grandparents think he isn’t warm enough (there’s some of that humor that adults will get). All his friends try to help him figure out what’s wrong. No matter how hard he tries, or how many people help him, he can only color in blue. Everyone thinks this is wrong. What is wrong with him? Why can’t he draw in red?

Not one person, even Red himself, thinks it’s something else that’s wrong. That Red is fine just the way he is.

It reminds me of an Albert Einstein quote:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

I just love this quote. It helps us understand that we are not made to know everything, or to be able to do everything. We have a special purpose. “Everybody is a genius!”

Back to Red. Finally, along comes a different crayon, a purple crayon. This crayon asks Red to draw him a blue ocean. Red says, “I can’t.” This line nearly breaks my heart. He’s defeated. He believes he can’t. He thinks he a fish that is being asked to climb a tree!

The Purple crayon persists and asks, “can you try?” Red tries and succeeds! He draws a blue ocean.

Red realizes he’s blue. BLUE! He never was red. Nothing was wrong with him. He was mislabeled! No one was lifting him up, or believing in him. All they were trying to do was find out what was wrong.

I can’t tell you how many different themes this book covers in one simple story. Here’s a few that come to mind:

  • believe in yourself
  • overcoming doubt (your own and others)
  • treat others as they want to be treated
  • tolerance for people’s differences
  • race
  • judgement
  • acceptance
  • never give up

My 9-year-old says it’s about not judging a book by its cover. Indeed. The brilliant part of this book is that it’s a simple story about crayons.

I have to admit that I’m reading a lot into a simple picture book, but I think it’s a great way to open dialogue in your home.

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book. Affiliate links are used in this post, so, if you make a purchase I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Opinions are my own.

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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Chocolate Butter

3-ingredient chocolate butter -- decadent for bread for pancakes via BalancingMotherhood.comI love this latest recipe. Truly, I’m in love with this one. It’s decadent, and — as always — EASY! I can’t believe I’ve never even heard of CHOCOLATE BUTTER before!

I found this little recipe in the most recent issue of Real Simple magazine on a page titled “chocolate chips.” WHOA! It was this little listing at the bottom of page 44 and I almost missed it. Intrigued, I tore out the page and set it aside thinking I might try to make it. At the same time, I wondered what the heck is chocolate butter anyway?

I’m so glad I was intrigued enough to make this one and you will be too!

chocolate butter -- decadent and easyAll it takes is butter, cocoa, and chocolate chips and a dash of salt.

Mix together and you get this decadent chocolate dream. It doesn’t taste like butter, but it does taste like butter — only better.

So, what do you use chocolate butter on?

chocolate butter -- decadent and easyIt’s perfect for a warm croissant. If the butter is room temperature it spreads like plain butter. But who wants plain butter when you can have chocolate butter? I’d say it’s similar to Nutella in spreadability. Yeah, I just made the word spreadability up.

chocolate butter on whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup -- YUM!But, what I LOVED with this chocolate butter was a warm stack of whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup. The heat from the pancakes gently melted the chocolate butter and added the most delicious flavor. Seriously better than just adding chocolate chips to the batter. This butter adds a level of richness to the pancakes.

You have to make this. You won’t regret it. Make it for Valentine’s day. Make it for Mother’s Day. Make it for Easter. Make it for no reason!

Chocolate Butter
 
This recipe is adapted from Real Simple magazine. Serve with croissants, or on pancakes -- or anything you like!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter (unsalted)
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Make sure butter is at room temperature.
  2. Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 30 second increments, stir after each 30 seconds. This shouldn't take more than 3 times or a max of 1 minute, 30 seconds. Chips won't look melted until you stir them. You can also put chips in double boiler to melt.
  3. Add ingredients into mixing bowl in order listed.
  4. Mix on low until smooth. Make sure to get all butter parts incorporated into the chocolate.
  5. Put chocolate butter into serving bowl. You can eat it right away or let it firm a little bit.
  6. Store in the refrigerator, but it's best served at room temperature.

 

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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Times of Transition

How do I start a post about how much I’ve been slacking? Truth of the matter is that I’ve been super busy — just not enough on the content side of the blog. I did make an amazing batch of chocolate butter — really, chocolate butter! I’ll put that up next week. So easy and oh, so delicious. But you can’t see that. You only see when I actually post article and recipes here, and I’ve been remiss in that for a couple of weeks.

Let me tell you what’s going on. I’ve been seeking employment. As much as I love this blog, I realize that I need regular income that I just haven’t been able to generate from this site — yet! So, back to work I go. I’ve been submitting resumes, writing cover letters, networking, and going on interviews. It’s a full-time job looking for a full-time job. But, I found one and I think it’s a great fit.

I’ll still be blogging, but will have to work harder at it. First up is a new theme. I’ve been struggling with the Thesis theme for over a year now and it’s just not cutting it. I’ve paid developers to fix things, only for them to break again. So, first order of business is a new theme. This will be fresh new look that will highlight the food focus the blog has shifted to in the past year or so. I’m really excited about this development! Sometimes things need to break in order for them to get better.

Oh, and a case of head lice hit my house today — so, there’s that.

So, bear with me as I adjust my hours and get back to regular blog posts. I’m excited that it’s going to be better than ever!

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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Picks for My Favorite Novels from 2014

At the beginning of the year I was behind on my reading. Behind is relative as I didn’t set a goal of have a reason I had to read (no school grades depended on it, my job didn’t require it), but behind what I normally read in a given month or year.  I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t read a novel for 2 years — while I was in graduate school. Even for month after graduation, I just couldn’t dig into anything that wasn’t business related. Novels just weren’t working for me.

But then, I finally found a book that kept my attention and that I didn’t feel guilt about reading. Why would I feel guilty reading a book? It was mother’s guilt working in my brain. Guilt that I should be spending time with my kids, instead of doing something for myself. I know, I know, this is not how to be a good mother. So, once I found a good book, I plowed through it. And then I found another, and another. So, finally, I can say I’ve read several good books this year. Here are a few of my favorites — all would make great book club choices!

Disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post.

Margot

This book intrigued me because it’s about Anne Frank. I love stories about young Anne and have been mesmerized by her true story for years. I’ve visited the house where she and her family hid. This is a novel and is actually about Anne’s sister. It’s true she had a sister, but the novel takes creative license to tell a story about how her sister lives and how she tries to create a new life as Margot, in America. She keeps her real identity a secret even when her sisters Diary becomes a major motion picture. This book intrigued me to read a novel again and it would make a great discussion for a book club!

The Storyteller

Jodi Picoult is an amazing writer. I hadn’t read anything from her previously, but I got a hold of this book and couldn’t put it down. The Storyteller is a modern-day tale about a young woman who is befriended by an old man. He wants her to help him die. As you read on, you learn about his past and are transported back to WWII and Nazi Germany, learning about the SS officers and the terrible things that happened to the prisoners at the concentration camps. You also learn that the young woman’s grandmother was one of the prisoners in Auschwitz. This book is so compelling. You just can’t put it down. You’re taken in by the stories of the past, and you wonder in the present if the young woman is going to help the old man take his own life. You keep reading, you keep wondering, and then you are surprised at the end. This book is remarkable — I only wish I had a book group to discuss it with when I finished reading it.

Me Before You


This book reminds me of one I read years ago called, Dive from Claussens Pier in the sense that it’s a love story involving a young person who was paralyzed in a tragic accident.

My mother sent me this book knowing I was desperate for a good read. She reads a lot — seriously, more than anyone I know — and I trust her recommendations. I posted a photo of this book to Facebook telling my friends about it as I started to read. Immediate reaction was positive, saying I’d like it. One friend said she read it in a day. That’s enough to get me to read any book.

The text is easy to read and light, although the subject matter can seem heavy. Will Traynor has a tragic accident leaving him paralyzed and unable to live his big, rich life. A young woman is hired to be his caregiver, helping with his daily needs (mainly his mood) and the tale starts to unfold as these two get to know one another.

Will he live? Will he die? Will they fall in love? Is any of it enough? These are the questions that get you to the end of the book. Once it’s over you keep thinking about it.

and my FAVORITE book of the year:

eleanor & park


It was a toss-up between Me Before You and eleanor & park, but I had to go with the latter because of how it made me feel. This is such a sweet read. Young love at its best. This book absolutely transports you back to your youth. You’re back in high school with this couple. You feel their pain. You enjoy their highs. You embrace their story. I devoured this book and didn’t want it to end.

What was your favorite read of 2014?

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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Merry Christmas

 

Merry Christmas from BalancingMotherhood.comWishing you and your family a great Christmas, celebrating the hope that Christmas brings.

It’s truly a blessing to be able to blog here and have you come back each week to see what I’ve created. I’ve been so humbled this year as people have written me asking me specifics about some of the recipes I’ve posted. Here’s to many more in the future!

We’re hanging low this Christmas, with a big trip to a sunny location after the holiday. Flip flops here I come!!!

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of BalancingMotherhood.com. Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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