Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

What if the sky were yellow and the sea were green?

Posted on | September 2, 2013 | 11 Comments

daycrayonsquit_frontcoverOne of the first books I’m going to share at school when term starts later this week is The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.

A school boy’s crayons are up in arms. They are fed up with the way they get used. Some complain of not being used enough, others just want a rest from over-use. One is embarrassed to be naked (the paper label has been torn off), whilst others are arguing over who is the best when it comes to colouring the sun.

Just how is this school boy going to keep his crayons happy? A very clever (unspoken) solution is found, and colouring can continue, keeping everyone happy, albeit with some surprising results.

crayons_Reading

Drew Daywalt’s text is instantly appealing. He takes something as simple and recognisable as the act of colouring and drawing (a relatively large part of many young kids’ lives) and injects it with high drama, and a sense of power (for the child gets to decide the fate of the crayons). There’s lots of scope for silly voices as each crayon complains, making it as much fun for the reader as the listener.

Jeffers was a perfect choice to illustrate this story; his apparently naive, sketchy illustrations will have kids looking at them thinking his drawings are just like theirs: Like the text, the illustrations are empowering.

A wickedly funny, spot-on picture book with bags and bags of kid appeal, I really can’t wait to share this will classrooms of kids.

As we were having tremendously hot weather when this book first arrived in our laps, we combined reading it with experimental science: was the weather hot enough to melt wax crayons?

We grated some stubs of crayons and then used them like rice in rangoli art.

crayons4

We drew outlines with chalk and then filled them in with our crayon gratings.

crayons1

The temperature rose and rose…

crayons2

And gradually the crayons DID melt! They glistened in the sun, and once soft, we used our fingers to spread out the melted wax.

crayons3

Our patio now has some unique decoration :-)

crayons5

Another day we tried drawing with crayons on sandpaper for a different sort of sensory experience.

crayondrawing

Once the drawings were complete, we ironed them onto tracing paper (with a dishcloth under the iron, to prevent the paper from singeing).

drawingwithcrayons

This had an amazing pointillist effect, creating “ghost” images of the original drawing, made up of thousands of little dots.

crayonpoints

As if you needed any more proof that The Day the Crayons Quit was a hit in our home, M couldn’t resist making a set of crayon characters with googly eyes and pipecleaners. She has visions of making another little stop animation film with them (which would be entirely appropriate given that the author of The Day the Crayons Quit is a film maker), so watch this space!

bringingcrayonstolife

Whilst melting / drawing / ironing we listened to:

  • Box of Crayons by The Pop Ups
  • Crayon Man by Roy Handy and the Moonshot
  • Crayola Doesn’t Make A Color For Your Eyes by Kristen Andreassen

  • Other crayon activities we’d like to try out include:

  • Using a hairdryer to melt crayons, thereby creating an amazing trickle effect. 52 Kitchen Adventures has the low-down.
  • Returning to an old favourite: use crayons on hot rocks, or heated wood, as we did here.
  • Using crayons to colour in (in unexpected colours) the free sheets available at http://oliverjeffersworld.com/.


  • When I read The Day the Crayons Quit at school I’ll be using it in a session with Eric Carle’s The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, and What Colour is Your World? by Bob Gill.

    What colour is your favourite crayon? (Mine is red :-))

    Disclosure: I received a free, review copy of The Day the Crayons Quit.

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    Comments

    11 Responses to “What if the sky were yellow and the sea were green?”

    1. Barbara Mojica
      September 2nd, 2013 @ 3:30 am

      So many ways to play with crayons! Teal is my favorite color.

    2. SIMONE FRASER
      September 2nd, 2013 @ 4:48 am

      Zoe, this may well be my favourite so far of all your postings! (Well, those that I’ve seen, of course). I haven’t bought this book yet but I’ve been adoring it every time I enter my favourite local book shops. The joyful creatvity of you and your children following the exploration of a new book never ceases to make me feel positive and alive!

      Simone

    3. Zoe
      September 2nd, 2013 @ 6:36 am

      I love the word Teal, Barbara – though Red is always my favourite :-)

      Thanks Simone, I think this is a really fun book that kids will adore. My two at home love it, and I think it will work so well as a class read aloud.
      Zoe recently posted..What if the sky were yellow and the sea were green?

    4. Stephanie
      September 2nd, 2013 @ 8:02 am

      Love the simple idea in this book! Will be requesting it at the library for sure!
      Stephanie recently posted..Storybramble’s first audio story is now for sale! Pay what you want & Support Charity

    5. Alex Baugh
      September 3rd, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

      I thought this book was wonderful when I read it for the the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee. So cleverly done for a person who comes from a background in horror.
      Alex Baugh recently posted..The Price of Freedom: how one town stood up to slavery by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin, illustrated by Eric Velasquez

    6. choxbox
      September 3rd, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

      WHOA! Came across this book somewhere – just read about it, and immediatly thought of you!

      And this – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-23934792
      Just a matter of time now before we pop over!

    7. Zoe
      September 4th, 2013 @ 9:41 am

      Hi Choxbox, I was at the opening of the library yesterday http://www.flickr.com/photos/billtoview/9664594673/ – do let me know when you’re coming!
      Zoe recently posted..What if the sky were yellow and the sea were green?

    8. choxbox
      September 5th, 2013 @ 10:39 am

      It is so apt that this is situated in a city where you live!

      Meeting you will be the key highlight of the trip for us, so of course will let you know!

    9. choxbox
      September 5th, 2013 @ 10:41 am

      And I love your tee, and that hat – oh my god it is brilliant! Did you make it?!

    10. Catherine
      September 20th, 2013 @ 11:06 am

      Your patio looks amazing. Are the pictures still there or did you have to clean the wax off somehow?
      Catherine recently posted..On The Way Home by Jill Murphy

    11. Zoe
      September 20th, 2013 @ 11:13 am

      The wax is still there Catherine! It could probably be scraped off, but I like the reminder of a great afternoon.

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