Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Molly Bang’s The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

Literature in Context: A Community-Based Education Guide to Molly Bang’s The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

Download the Learning Map, which links this book to local opportunities for community-based learning.

The grey lady is out for a day of errands, stopping by her local farmer’s market for what appears to be the season’s final quart of delicious strawberries. She is quite pleased with her purchase, and nestles it safely inside a reusable mesh shopping bag before beginning her journey home. It’s not too long, however, before readers see that the grey lady’s berries might be in danger. A cloaked blue figure is following her, stopping at nothing to snatch the strawberries that the grey lady covets!

The figure moves carefully, gliding down the sidewalk behind the grey lady – gaining and gaining while waiting for the perfect moment to snatch the berries from her bag. With each step, mushrooms appear from the ground – hinting at the figure’s mysterious origins. With every step, the blue figure draws nearer until an opportunity to snatch appears. The grey lady saves her berries, but must hurry away to thwart the thieving figure’s plan.

The figure follows the grey lady’s bus out of town and into the woods, where she leaves the bus to make her way home. The two are close as the grey lady travels around a swamp and into a forest, the grey lady looking over her shoulder as she moves. After a dramatic swing on a vine, the grey lady leads the figure to a patch of delicious, just-ripened blackberries – and lo and behold! The figure loses its appetite for strawberries and is satiated by the fresh berry patch. While the figure munches greedily, the grey lady arrives at home and shares her delicious last-of-the-season strawberries with her family who happily enjoy every last one.

The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher is unique in that it lacks words; the action is told entirely through Molly Bang’s intricate and fantastical illustrations, done in a manner that evokes a fairytale world. The text can be used as a tool for deriving meaning from images with young readers, or as a source for a study of symbolism in images and storytelling with older readers. When considered with a critical sense, the story may even be about the inevitable end of a season which brings with it the start of the next – but that’s for readers to determine for themselves!

Download the this story’s companion Learning Map for Critical Thinking Questions and Resources for Self-Directed Learning During Strawberry Season, produced by our Community-Based Education Correspondent, Robin Huntley, Director of the Maine-based Dirigo Learning.

Robin Morgan Huntley, Community-Based Education Correspondent

A native to Maine, Robin joined Hilltown Families in early 2011 as an intern and remained over the years volunteering as a community-based education correspondent until moving back to Maine in 2016. Robin is a graduate of Antioch University with a masters in education. Her interests within the field of education include policy and all types of nontraditional education. For her undergraduate project at Hampshire College, Robin researched the importance of connecting public schools with their surrounding communities, especially in rural areas. Robin currently lives with her husband, cats and rabbits in Maine and is a 5th grade public school teacher.

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