The Day the Crayons Quit
By: Drew Daywalt
Illustrated by: Oliver Jeffers
Published by: Philomel Books, 2013
Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: We quit! What is Duncan to do?
The picture book I keep within arm’s reach these days is without a doubt The Day the Crayons Quit. A debut by author Drew Daywalt and illustrated by one of my favorite children’s authors Oliver Jeffers, The Day the Crayons Quit is an imaginative story that inspires little and older readers alike to think outside the box when it comes to coloring their world.
It’s a day like any other for Duncan, until he reaches for his crayon box only to discover that his trusty crayons are not interested in working for him anymore – they have drawn the line.
Duncan receives a letter from each of his crayons detailing their concerns: red and blue feel overworked, while beige and peach feel neglected; black is tired of being relied on for outlines; orange and yellow can’t agree on which color the sun should be; and pink is fed up with being labeled as a “girl’s color.” In the end, Duncan takes their words into deep consideration and satisfies their demands by using all of his crayons in new and unique ways to create a beautiful picture.
I love this book for inspiring creativity in young children. Many of my younger students experience a tendency to want to color things “right” – apples are red and the sky is blue and elephants are grey. But experimenting with colors in their artwork is a great way to imagine the world in fun and different ways. Personifying the crayons in such a playful manner is a great way to encourage students who tend to gravitate towards using only one color in their artwork to experiment with multiple colors. This could be an excellent read aloud for older students to introduce a persuasive writing unit as well. Students could write letters to their favorite crayon color persuading them to return to work.
Vibrant illustrations – done in what else but crayon – and an imaginative tale, with many opportunities for lesson extensions makes The Day the Crayons Quit a staple in my classroom.