The Day the Crayons Quit

Horn Book

I love the cover of this month’s The Horn Book Magazine so much that I had to take a picture of it amongst my latest library craft. Craft for me being a jar wrapped with ribbon stuffed with pencils so the older kids can fill out their own library check out cards. The cover art is from the book Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell. That’s Jane Goodall and her monkey, Jubilee. Come on. She has a monkey named Jubilee! This book is going on the library list for that reason alone.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt is another book I would love to buy for the library should my plans for a money tree come to fruition. I bought it last week for Nico and he loved it so much he had me read it slowly so he could carefully examine every page and compare it with the text as I read. Mikey was doing homework alongside us and finally ended up curling up next to Nico to listen to the story of Duncan and his unhappy crayons.

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Duncan’s crayons are so unhappy, they go on strike. The illustrations kill me. Their skinny little crayon legs! (And eyebrows! And arms! And little fists holding signs and Mr. Green’s criss-crosssed feet!)

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The crayons all band together and put their frustrations in writing. Each letter of complaint is better than the next. I had to share a few of my favorites, which favored adult humor. Mikey and Nico had their own favorites.

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Dear Duncan,
I’m tired of being called “light brown” or “Dark tan” because I am neither. I am BEIGE and I am proud. I’m also tired of being second place to Mr. Brown Crayon. It’s not fair that Brown gets all the bears, ponies and puppies while the only things I get are turkey dinners (if I’m lucky) and wheat, and let’s be honest–when was the last time you saw a kid excited about coloring wheat?

Your BEIGE friend,

Beige Crayon

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Dear Duncan,

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 color SNOW or to fill in empty space between other things. And it leaves me feeling…well…empty. We need to talk.

Your empty friend,

White Crayon

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Dear Duncan,

All right, LISTEN.

I love that I’m your favorite crayon for grapes, dragons, and wizard’s hats, but it makes me crazy that so much of my gorgeous color goes outside the lines. If you DON’T START COLORING INSIDE the lines soon…I’m going to COMPLETELY LOSE IT.

Your very neat friend,

Purple Crayon

The beige crayon is emo, the white crayon disappears (in the white space!), and the purple crayon has a strong brow of disdain. I want to be friends with Duncan’s crayons.

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I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s a children’s book. You can assume Duncan doesn’t go on to live in a colorless world. They reach an understanding.

This post is a little silly. I’m not a review blog! But we really enjoyed this book and, to be honest, you have no idea how many children’s, middle school, and young adult books I’ve been reading lately to get myself up to speed with these kids. It’s all I have to talk about! All my years of poo-pooing young adult literature? Hahahaha! Who’s enjoying a slice of humble pie with a side of Origami Yoda now?

New Diary of A Wimpy Kid out in November!!!11! (Feel free to unsubscribe now.)

Comments
39 Responses to “The Day the Crayons Quit”
  1. Juliette says:

    Ok, you can just go ahead and keep writing more of these b/c this post cracked me up! I’ll be buying this book for my nieces. I love it when kid books have subtleties to entertain the adults who have to read them aloud again and again!

  2. Cham says:

    Those books will be lovely additions to the children’s library I’m dreaming of building… for myself! OK OK, for my future kids too… :)

  3. Kristen says:

    +1000000 A book about crayons with personalities??!! Sign me up! Thanks for making my day, Jules! :)

  4. Lu says:

    Never! Love all your posts too much. I’m enjoying reading about this new ‘job’. It sounds great and you sound like you’re having a great time.

  5. Heather P. says:

    Sounds like a fun book!

    Don’t worry about the humble pie – I’ve found that children’s books are getting better, and definitely more clever, in recent years. You just have to sift through a lot of typical stuff to get to the gems, that’s all. :-)

  6. Lindsey says:

    So, this is the third time in a week that I have seen this book (favorably) mentioned in the blogosphere. Clearly this is a sign that I need to order this book today. We love Oliver Jeffers. Have you read Stuck? It’s one of my daughter’s favorites, and one of my favorites to read to her.

  7. Lydia says:

    This is going on the Christmas list for my nephews.

    The older nephew loves to read and is FAST. The youngest one is struggling, and I’m trying to find ways to help him love reading.

    Any suggestions?

  8. Kathy says:

    My son loves the “Origami Yoda” books! I bought the Jane Goodall book for my daughter the year it came out. Jane Goodall was her hero as a pre-teen/teen.
    And I collect children’s books – I’ll be adding “The Day the Crayons Quit” to my collection.
    See, I knew your new position as librarian would pay dividends to us readers: living vicariously, good stories, and even more book reviews/recommendations!

  9. This makes me wish my kids were still little! Love a great children’s book.

  10. Laura says:

    Children’s books are a dangerous drug. I can’t get enough. Luckily I get to read at my job!

  11. Susan G says:

    ” let’s be honest–when was the last time you saw a kid excited about coloring wheat?”

    Hahahaha! No one younger than 16 in my house, but I might need this book anyway!

  12. Shannon says:

    Oh please, I’d subscribe again if I could! I love kid book reviews and from a librarian, even better. This book sounds awesome and will be on my list for the girls. And DOAWK – already noted on the calendar. They may not be classics but my big girl loves them.

  13. Olivia B says:

    Hi Jules, I love children’s books and YA too. YA is severely underrated, a good YA when well written means EVERYTHING to me :). I just finished a really good YA book called Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor..it was SO good.

  14. meg says:

    I’m so happy you did post about this book! My youngest will love it, and I’m a big fan of books which will amuse me again and again; it’s the least they can do if that’s how often I’ll be re-reading them.

    As for the Origami Yoda series, they’re great, right?! My son loves them, and finds them very quotable. (Even the quoting hasn’t driven me bonkers yet.)

  15. Jeanne says:

    I would love this book and wish I had a young child to read it to. It’s right up my alley, so I clicked on the link to amazon, thinking it might make a good gift. Lots of praise, but there are a few negative reviews and an interesting missive about the history of Crayola, the retirement of the color “flesh” (I remember that crayon!) in the early 60’s, and the peach (naked) and pink crayons in the story still supporting concept of caucasian skin tones. I did not read it all carefully, but got the drift from my skimming that the person thought the story largely played to the adults and the illustrations saved it for the kids. Very interesting. I am sure I still would love this book and clearly your boys did.

    • I love that you point this out (the review about the ‘skin colour’ assumption that completely disregards much of the world’s population). We are a light skinned/Caucasian family living in a suburb where we are in the minority, and it bothers me that I have to work hard to find books that don’t ignore the existence of non-white skin/culture/experience.

      • Jules says:

        Not entirely on topic, but close: multiculturalism in children’s literature was the subject of this month’s editorial in The Horn Book Magazine.

        • Jules says:

          Also, the peach crayon complaint is interesting. I read that page and had the opposite reaction. The naked/flesh thought didn’t even occur to me. I just thought it was funny because for some reason that crayon was always “naked” in my box. That wrapper was the first to fall off and it drove me NUTS. I hated crayons without wrappers so I would never take it out of the box.

          I can’t say that’s why the author wrote the story that way, but that’s what I was thinking as I read it. It could very well be an unintentional/unfortunate comment on skin color or race.

  16. Kate says:

    Unsubscribe. Psh, you’re crazy. This book is going on the list of things to purchase just as soon as my Spend Free September is over!!

    AND I’ve been so inspired, I finally caved and started my application for my MLIS. If accepted to the program, I’ll be starting next fall when my youngest heads off to kindergarten and I’m beyond thrilled!

  17. Stacey says:

    I loooove your reviews! And thank you for the heads up on Wimpy Kid…..confession: we ALL read them at my house: grandma, grandpa and newly minted 6th grader.

  18. Lisa in Seattle says:

    I may just peruse the crayon book on my next trip to the bookstore! If you haven’t read the Dragonbreath series yet, you might want to jump on it! Number 9 just came out last week. The 10-year-old son of my librarian friend says he hasn’t been able to read them because they’re always checked out of the school library.

  19. I have ‘Me, Jane’. I ordered it sight unseen because of the subject matter – my son’s books are filled with boys and he needs to see more females in lead roles, and this is especially fantastic because she is a real life person. In truth, I am a little disappointed with the book. It didn’t have the magic that I wanted it to have, and primarily I think this was in the words/storytelling not being quite as inspired or creative as, say, Mem Fox. But I also think (as I have put it away until my son is a little older) that the story will probably grow on me when I read it with him, as has happened with other books that I found underwhelming at first.

    • I’ve found this quote from Mem Fox that describes what i think Me, Jane is missing that would elevate it from ‘nice’ to ‘great':

      “…one of the many repugnant aspects of writing for little kids is finding a brilliant idea that will appeal to them—to the children—not just to the adults who’ll be reading the books aloud. [...] After twenty one years of writing for children, I’ve come to appreciate that the books young children like best fall broadly into two categories: either short books with a pattern, based on rhyme, rhythm or repetition; or short books with a really good story. They don’t like nostalgia books. They don’t like first person books. And they don’t like long books. Stories, or patterns: that’s it.”

      http://www.memfox.com/green-sheep-secrets.html

      Me, Jane looks like a books for little kids but I think it’s going to be most successful with adults! And maybe slightly older primary school kids? Anyway, if you get it for the library I will be very interested to hear how kids react to it.

      PS The illustrations are very, very beautiful.

      • Jules says:

        There are quite a few books that, while pretty, are really best for the older kids. When Mikey did his president report last year, a lot of the picture books were for his age, even though they were in the little kid section at the library.

  20. Carrie says:

    *Such* great recommendations for books – please, please, please keep them coming. And, in spite of the fact that most of my profession would scorn me for thinking this, I say: You work in a library, you ARE a librarian. So excited to hear how this new chapter in your life is unfolding, and blessing so many, many people (not the least of which are those at your school) along the way.

    Now, off to add the Crayons book to my library ‘hold’ shelf… if I don’t already have too many things on there!

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Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.