TRC Read to Kids

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Monday, September 30, 2013

The Day the Crayons Quit

Crayons have feelings too, you know.

In the delightful new picture book The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, crayons tell a little boy just how they feel about their workload, stereotypes and inter-crayon relations. The crayons’ complaints are funny and kid-friendly, but will also resonate with grown-ups, making this an ideal book to read aloud.

One day, when Duncan opens his crayon box to do a little drawing, he finds a stack of letters, but no crayons. Each of the twelve crayons in his box has written Duncan a letter explaining its reasons for going AWOL. Red is overworked, Purple has control issues, Beige is underappreciated, Gray seeks diversity in his tasks, Orange and Yellow are fighting and Green is caught in the middle. And so it goes.

As the crayons’ manager, can Duncan address his workers’ issues and get them back to work? To be successful, he’ll have to think outside the (crayon) box!

Nearly all the text in this book is in the form of short letters from the crayons to Duncan, making it well suited to reading aloud to a group. Each letter is accompanied by a picture featuring the complaining crayon. Before reading each letter, readers can ask listeners to predict what each color is unhappy about, and of course ask them to predict what Duncan will do to resolve the situation.

Both the story and the illustrations beg you to break out the crayons or to imagine what other toys or household items might think about their situation. Are your Legos dissatisfied? Do the dress-up clothes in your toy box lament being typecast? What about your kitchen appliances? Do they have DIY home improvement aspirations? Get your kids imagining and talking about the ordinary objects in their lives using this book.

The Day the Crayons Quit would work well when paired with other books about unhappy workers, like Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, or with books about letters like Toot & Puddle by Holly Hobbie, Dear Mrs. LaRue by Mark Teague or The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allen Ahlberg. And, you can always go the unorthodox color book route with Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.

No matter what you choose to read with The Day the Crayons Quit, the cheeky crayons and Duncan’s sympathetic and creative response to them will delight readers and listeners alike!

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