Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Colorful Correspondence: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

Duncan's crayons are on strike.

Even that colorless nonentity, White Crayon, has a complaint.

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!

Your Empty Friend,
White Crayon

Pink Crayon pointedly puts forth her problem sharply:


You have used me ONCE in the past year (thanks to your little sister for using me on her princesses coloring book!)

Your unused friend,
Pink Crayon

Gray Crayon points out that he doesn't have a point, worn down to a nub because of Duncan's apparent obsession with illustrating elephants. Yellow and Orange querulously insist that each of them holds the franchise on coloring the sun and Duncan must choose between them--or else!

Black is tired of being used to outline things with which he has absolutely no interest in associating himself.  Beige Crayon insists on his politically correct name; no more calling him TAN! Red requests a rest from working holiday overtime on all that Christmas and Valentine's Day duty. Purple appreciates being so popular, but why can't Duncan keep him inside the lines!!!! And Peach Crayon has a personal privacy issue:

Hey, Duncan,
It's Peach Crayon. 
Why did you peel off my paper wrapping?
Now I'm naked, and too embarrassed to leave the crayon box. How would YOU like to go to school NAKED?

Epistolary narration is a device quite familiar in novels, but author Drew Daywalt and illustrator Oliver Jeffers use it to excellent effect in their best-selling colorful collaboration of correspondence, The Day the Crayons Quit (Philomel, 2013). Thinking inside the box (the crayon box, that is) Daywalt's dry wit exactly matches Jeffers' scratchy line and expertly faux naif reproductions of childlike drawings in a combination of job action letters that are charming, classy and sassy, and, well, quite colorful. Kirkus Reviews puts them all back in the box in their summary: "Clever spreads, such as Duncan's "white cat in the snow" perfectly capture the crayons' conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale's overall believability. A comical, fresh look at crayons and color."

Other standout examples of Oliver Jeffers' witty work include This Moose Belongs to Me (see review here), and Stuck (see review here).

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