I’ve been seeing The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt and pictures by Oliver Jeffers, on essentially every Barnes and Noble children’s display for months. Before I read it or even looked at a summary, I knew I was going to like it. Something about the title and the cover illustrations that show crayons picketing, really appealed to me as a reader. On the back cover, the picketing crayons continue with the line, “The Battle Lines Have Been Drawn.” How can you not already love it? Published in 2013, this book is one that is sure to be wildly popular with children, adults, and teachers alike.
Duncan is sitting in class one day and goes to take out his crayons. There, he finds not his crayons, but a bunch of letters addressed to them. Turns out, all of these letters are written by each of his different crayons colors. Let me tell you folks, these crayons are here to complain. Poor red is angry because he (I’m assuming it’s a “he” here) feels like he works harder than all the other crayons, drawing fire trucks, apples, strawberries, and everything else. Poor red even has to work on the holidays, coloring Santas and hearts for Valentine’s day. The book continues in this way, with each crayon issuing their grievances to Duncan. Gray is angry that he has to work so hard to draw large animals, like elephants, rhinos, hippos, and humpback whales. With each page, you get a giggle as you uncover the plight of the crayons. The book concludes with Duncan finding a creative solution, so that he can both use his crayons AND make them happy.
Before I give my complete opinion, I thought I’d give you a review of the book from the intended audience—a child. A lot of times, I don’t get the same things out of a text that my students do. So, I asked a child in my class to read this book and tell me what she thought of it. I asked her to maybe leave me a sticky note or two in the book to let me know her thoughts or any parts she liked. My sweet girl certainly rose to the occasion, and here is her review of the book:
“I think it was really entertaining. I love how the peach colored crayon was supposed to be naked and this book really is a funny book. I just really love it. And purple is my favorite color so this is wonderful and I love how the white crayon well you could only see his eyes. And I like how the red crayon throws a fit about Christmas. I feel bad for BEIGE because as a kid I know no one likes to color wheat. If I were Duncan I would give the gray crayon a break, I mean. I like how the black crayon begged Duncan. I think my mom would like this book because she likes all things green. I think she would and the yellow crayon to me is right. I mean it’s not like I don’t like the color orange, it’s just that’s not usually the color of the sun. I also love how the blue crayon was so small and stubby, now that’s funny. And one more thing, I like how the pink was so sassy about her being a girl color. I really would recommend the book to every kid in the world.”
I don’t know if I need to even give my opinion after she did such a good job. I think that most kids, like my student, will latch onto and enjoy the part that talks about whatever their favorite color is. I can just see them waiting anxiously to figure out when their favorite color is coming up, and then reveling in whatever that crayon says! The best thing about this book is that all of the crayons are just so relatable. Yes, a crayon is relatable. You can read in her writing that my student gets what each crayon is talking about. She says “I feel bad for BEIGE because as a kid I know no one likes to color wheat.” I have no doubt in my minds that my students would all laugh at each one of the crayons’ complaints, because they do it to their own poor crayons. My personal favorites are white and peach. I can already hear the roars of laughter as I read to my children about how peach is upset because Duncan took of his wrapper and now he is naked! Poor white says:
“You color with me, but why? Most of the time I’m the same color as the page you are using me on—white. If I didn’t have a black outline, you wouldn’t even know I was there! I’m not even in the rainbow. I’m only used to fill in empty space between other things. And it leaves me feeling… well… empty. We need to talk.”
I think all of us are guilty of only using white for snow and clouds! Teachers will love this book too, because it deals with the harsh reality of crayon abuse. We know that crayons are worked too hard and abused, and I’m glad this serious issue is finally being discussed!
Oliver Jeffers illustrations all look like—wait for it—crayon drawings. All of the text is in the form of letters that are written in crayon. The illustrations look like drawings that children would actually make. The purple dinosaur and purple wizard all have scribbles outside the line (which is what purple complains about anyway.) The drawing of blue is pretty much just blue, blue, blue, and you can already picture in your mind the child who would color everything the same color all the time. The crayons themselves have a little more finesse, but the illustrations are fun and playful and I can’t think of a single child who wouldn’t have some fun with this book.
One final thought in closing. If you want to read the book, go check it out from your local library! If you want to buy the book, though, I beg of you not to get the Kindle edition. I got the Kindle edition of the book, and the text was hard to read and there was some weird double-click feature I had to use that I didn’t even get right a lot of the time. If I can’t get it, I feel like a child certainly wouldn’t be able to get this on their own! Kindles certainly have a place in our society, but it should not be with reading this picture book.
One thing is for sure after reading this book, you’ll never look at the peach colored crayon the same way again!
Link to check out:
Click here to read Drew Daywalt's blog about how he came to write The Day The Crayons Quit. What I love most is that it came from asking "What if?" I always start my fantasy unit with doing "What if?" lists with my kids!