Personified crayons and a pencil, thespians all, re-enact the cancellation of their book, while Hall fills his story within a story with intrigue, theater, and a whole lot of silly.
An “official notice” greets readers, urging them to abandon this book, while a cancellation stamp mars the title page. When the cast-member crayons realize a reader is turning the page, the pencil breaks the fourth wall and starts to recount what went wrong with their production of Frankencrayon. It began at rehearsal, with a mysterious scribble, which the crayons try to erase but only make bigger. When the play is canceled, three crayons help the scribble to independence by drawing feet and a face. Reflecting on these events, the crayons and pencil realize lessons learned (“Even a messy scribble can be a lovely thing”), and all ends well...until: “Screeeeeetch!” The villain behind the scribble is revealed! Hall, as usual, plays with both narrative and its visual representation. The illustrations are compelling, with cut-paper crayons and a variety of textures and typefaces. However, the stretch to innovate and interact leads to a story composed of many varied parts, which often complicate rather than clarify. And while different types help identify which character is speaking (and when), the textual busyness on top of this visually reductive story can be confusing.
With very careful repeat reads, this challenging tale may pay off, especially if readers choose to put on a play of their own. (dramatis personae) (Picture book. 5-8)