Friday Fiction – The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

Grey Lady and the Strawberry SnatcherThe Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

Submitter: I have a really liberal collection development philosophy, especially for a public high school, but this book just couldn’t stay.  Really? The people who designed the spine thought writing it Bang The Grey lady and the Strawberry Snatch(er) was a good idea?  Caldecott Honor or not this book is awful and has never been checked out, even by immature high school boys.

Holly: This is cataloged as juvenile fiction, which seems odd given it’s WorldCat description: “In this story without words, an old woman is pursued by a strange man with a passion for strawberries.”  I don’t know what year the library acquired it, but if it has never been checked out it has to go.  That is an unfortunate format of the spine, isn’t it?? (See first image below.)

Grey Lady book spine

Grey Lady - artwork

Grey Lady - artwork


  1. This was one of our family’s favorite books when I was younger, so I immediately felt defensive when I saw this post! Because there were no words in the story, it was a really fun read because we could change the story every time. I will admit, there were several pictures that we had NO idea what was going on (especially that weird bus picture shown above)…maybe the author took some mind-altering drugs while she was creating this book??
    After reading this post, I will concede that this is probably a weeder!!

  2. Hmm, I guess it takes all kinds… we have a paperbound version of this at home that’s been loved to death by our kids. I would be happy to replace it with a like-new copy from the library book sale! (Though I’d probably cut off the old shelf tag, too.)

    Molly Bang’s art in this book is interesting as she shifts the perspective and plays with positive/negative space on the page.

  3. This one of my very favorite books too, but I agree that it doesn’t belong in a high school library. The unfortunate tag placement is one thing, (my suspicious nature thinks that has to have been deliberate!) but this book is really for very young children. The fun is in making up narratives for the fantastic, wordless pictures.

  4. Molly Bang is a very good, highly respected author/illustrator of children’s books. I can’t imagine how this particular volume ended up in a high school library. I do remember seeing a copy when I was a children’s librarian, and the kids liked it for the reason listed by other comments — that they could make up the story.

  5. I can see this in a elementary school library. But it looks like a book about Death pursuing (or being pursued?) by someone… Is the Strawberry Snatcher chasing the Grey Lady of Death—am I over-analysing this? Do I have the movie Wild Strawberries stuck in my head?
    I agree that it is bad choice for a high school.

  6. If this is a child’s book, then why do the universities in my area own it?

    Barnes and Noble calls it a “wordless allegory.” Allegory of what it doesn’t say.

    A preview on Amazon shows the lady, not gray, but rather red. Then the strange fellow (the snatcher?) that follows her seems to sprout mushrooms wherever his feet walk. That’s about the time she turns grey.

    I wouldn’t show this one to any young children I know! That one illustration looks like he’s throwing eels at a bus. My daughter is 19 now, but eels still creep her out.

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