Reviewed by Dani Quast
Did you ever feel guilty as a kid for not using all of your crayons equally? Did you ever consider that some less-used crayons might have felt left out? The Day the Crayons Quit will make you remember the joys of coloring, but will add a quirky twist on how our activities advance or ignore equality. Addressed to early readers, this picturebook takes you through a series of letters written by different colored crayons belonging to a little boy named Duncan. Each crayon has a different request or complaint. For example, Red Crayon complains that he works too hard all year long, and Black Crayon complains that he is tired of only being used to outline other things.
The Day the Crayons Quit is a great example of sequential art. The story’s pictorial narrative helps readers visualize what the crayons write in each of their letters. For example, on the verso page Purple Crayon recounts that he is used to draw grapes, wizard, and dragons, and the visual on the recto page displays exactly these objects. This complementary relationship between pictures and text helps young readers improve in their reading and creativity skills. The pictorial narrative also enhances the message of the protest against unequal treatment—a concept the book helps grasp in a fantastic context. Young readers watch the faces and body language of the crayons, decoding how upset each crayon is and why.
The mock strike, while fun to read, carries the message of inclusion. I really liked how the book highlighted difference. Each letter that the crayons sketch is written in their color and in a different handwriting. This helps give each crayon its own personality, but also communicate that all of them can be equal without being the same. With each page turn, the reader encounters a new color and a new drawing that features that color. With each different opening, the picturebook highlights and motivates creativity. It also helps us consider what it’s like to be treated unequally.
The Day the Crayons Quit
By Drew Daywalt
Ill. Oliver Jeffers
Penguin Young Readers Group, 2013
Reviewed by Dani Quast in March 2018. Dani’s major is nursing, and she has 2 Pembroke Welsh Corgis!