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#PenguinDelight Review: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

day the crayons quitPoor Duncan just wants to colour. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: We quit!

Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown. Blue needs a break from colouring all that water, while Pink just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other.

What is Duncan to do? Debut author Drew Daywalt and New York Times bestseller Oliver Jeffers create a colourful solution in this playful, imaginative story that will have children laughing and playing with their crayons in a whole new way.

There’s an intangible quality about the perfect picture book. When you open it and you start to read inside, a feeling begins inside you, and within minutes you will find yourself beginning to smile. Hopefully, the child – or children – you are reading with will also be smiling, and they will be eagerly anticipating the next page. Such is the case with The Day The Crayons Quit, a delightfully impish read that has become an in-house favourite for both staff and families.

The premise is simple. Duncan just wants to colour, but his crayons are fed up. Page by page, each colour outlines their grievances – some are serious, such as Red’s complaint that it is overworked and needs a break, to the humorous, such as Peach’s complaint of being naked without its wrapper. Some of the crayons echo age-old questions — what IS the true colour of the sun? Yellow or Orange, people – time to pick a side (#TeamOrange).

The beauty of this picture book lies in its engaging drawings and the witty diatribes. Jeffers trademark scrawling lettering echoes that of a child, with only the proper grammar and spelling giving away the fact that it’s not actually written by a childish hand (or crayon-ish hand for that matter). Both adults and children will be drawn into the story; indeed, my niece, now a first grade teacher, read it to her class and the students were inspired to write their own letters as if they were part of the story.

What I love best about this story, however lies in the ending. Duncan is sensitive enough to recognize that all the colours in his crayon box want to be part of his pictures, so he creates a vibrant, unique picture that transcends traditional colour patterns to create something new and beautiful. As with the Harry Chapin song,  Flowers Are Red, this book encourages us to look beyond the traditional beliefs about colour and to consider adding colour to everything we do. What a lovely lesson for us all to learn!

There are so many colours in the rainbow
So many colours in the morning sun
So many colours in the flower and I see every one

The Day the Crayons Quit is published by Philomel, a division of Penguin Canada. ISBN 9780399255373, 40 pages. It is available for purchase from your friendly independent bookseller, Indigo and Kobo

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