The Day the Crayons Quit: Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013)
A book review, at last! Having managed only two last month, and three the month before that, this book blog is severely lacking in actual books. But I now have actual time to write, so picking one more or less at random… Okay, I lie, there’s something that bugged me about this book and so I chose to write about it first.
Warning: review may contain spoilers.
I’m going to start with saying I’m not a big Oliver Jeffers fan. I utterly love Stuck, and I like most of his other picture books, but… I don’t know, that writing style appears on everything these days and it gets a bit boring. So unlike many, I don’t jump up and down just because something has ‘Oliver Jeffers’ written on it (which is not the same as saying I don’t like his books at all.)
In the case of The Day the Crayons Quit, the writing and art style that Jeffers has fits perfectly with the storyline of letters written by crayons to their owner. As a concept, the book is a winner. I love to imagine inanimate objects having a life while you’re not looking, and getting letters from them as a child would be awesome.
The book includes ‘letters’ from red, purple, beige, grey, white, black, green, orange, yellow, blue, pink and peach crayons to a boy called Duncan complaining about their lot (over use, under use, repetitive use, nakedness etc) and beseeching him to improve their lives. Which he does, in a fab way.
In summary: great concept, pictures and text work well together, fun story, great interest for children. I think it will appeal to KS1/KS2 children more than the pre-school/EYFS age range. I’d recommend it as a good read etc.
So, what’s my problem? It’s my annoying attention to detail and picking up contradictions. We have, in the eleventh letter to Duncan, the pink crayon complaining that its never been used once in the last year apart from by his sister (to colour in a princess, because of course that’s what girls do rather than cowboys, dinosaurs and monsters that boys draw; this page is not endearing itself to me!) But let’s go back through the book so far, shall we? In the second letter (purple), the wizard has a pink nose and mouth. In the fourth letter (grey), the hippo has pink nostrils. In the eighth letter (yellow), there’s a pink pig and a pink basket!
The final picture, that’s supposed to placate all the crayons, also doesn’t answer all the questions. I can’t see beige, but there’s a brown bear. It doesn’t look beige to me. Blue has still been used lots when it asked not to. Did Duncan choose orange as the colour of the sun then, but what about poor yellow or is the colour of the sky meant to mean sunshine? And what about peach, is it still naked? If I were those crayons, I’d still be on strike…
Seriously though, this is such a fun book, and with older children you can discuss potential contradictions and anomalies (and why they might be there), and maybe think up letters from their crayons / pens / pencils – what would the complaints be in your house? Our felt tips would definitely complain of being left ‘headless’ and dehydrated without their tops.
Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Day the Crayons Quit by HarperCollins Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.