- Little Red Writing by Joan Holub
Little Red, a red pencil at Pencil School, embarks on a story-writing assignment, equipped with the advice “to stick to your basic story path so you don’t get lost” and a basket of words to use in case of trouble. Although Little Red begins well, she soon ends up in “a deep, dark, descriptive forest,” so she pulls out the word “scissors” and cuts her way out. A strange growling then causes her to fling more words and flee, but when she notices a tail (an appliance plug on a cord) she follows it to Principal Granny’s office to find a computer-like machine. Though the thing initially purports to be Principal Granny, it eventually reveals itself to be the Wolf 3000, a powerful pencil sharpener who has sharpened Principal Granny down to a stub. Little Red throws her last word—“dynamite”—at the Wolf 3000 and blows it to smithereens, thus rescuing Principal Granny and giving Little Red an exciting conclusion to her assignment. This is an original and action-filled concept, but the story-writing instructional hints feel forced, the plot is rather tangled, and Red’s tool words are too often contrived and convenient. Sweet’s watercolor, pencil, and collage artwork is a whole lot of fun, though, and the details of the pencil-inhabited world are charming if a bit cluttered. Enterprising English teachers willing to give a little added guidance may find this the most useful, and storytime leaders or school librarians may enjoy pairing this with Ahlberg’s The Pencil (BCCB 9/08) or Dromer’s The Obstinate Pen (BCCB 6/12).