Crayons have been good friends of children since its invention in 1904. They do not have a sharp edge, and they are an excellent and safe drawing tool for children unlike pens or pencils. When we, grown-ups, were young, we drew a lot with them: our favorite people, favorite animals, and favorite objects like a house or a vehicle. Probably, our imagination started expanding with what we have drawn. Drawing with a crayon on a sketchbook might provide extraordinary and creative feeling for our children.
A number of excellent books on crayons are introduced herein. These books will present the expansion of our children’s imagination.
Harold and the Purple Crayon
(Author and Illustrator: Crockett Johnson, Age range: 4~8 years)
One day, Harold goes out in the evening. While he was outside, he drew a lot of objects with the purple crayon such as the moon, the paths for a walk, one apple tree, an ocean, a mountain, and a lot of buildings with the windows. Whatever he drew became the real ones. He even created a big city with the purple crayon. When he could not find the window of his own room, he got an idea of drawing the window of his own room and his bed. Then, he fell to sleep on his bed.
Harold and the Purple Crayon was published in 1955 by Crockett Johnson (1906~1975). Probably, it is the most famous, popular, and successful book on crayons with its exceptional imagination. Its story-line is rather simple: a story of a 4-year-old boy with a purple crayon. By the way, creating a world with a crayon and taking an adventure to the world which he has created are such a spellbinding imagination. This book reminds me of another famous book of imagination for children, “Where the wild things are”, as introduced in my previous article. Both are great picture books. Although Harold and the Purple Crayon shows rather simple illustration, its content and imagination surpass our expectation. The scenes of encountering the dragon, flying in a balloon, and creating a city which is full of buildings show its grand-scale imagination.
the Day the Crayons quit
(Author: Drew Daywalt, Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers, Age range: 3~7 years)
One day, Duncan received a pile of letters from many crayons of different colors. The letters were from the crayons of 12 colors, including red, purple, beige, gray, white, black, green, yellow, orange, blue, pink, and peach. The letters said that the crayons were going to quit their jobs due to their own reasons. Duncan wanted to make all the crayons happy, and he drew a creative picture using all the colors. He got A for the picture and A+ for creativity.
The Day the crayons quit was published in 2013. It is mainly composed of 12 letters from the colorful crayons. Each of them complains about its own issues to Duncan. Each crayon also shows its own personality, and the complaints are somewhat reasonable and persuasive. A lot of complaints make us smile. The funniest part to me was the tension between yellow and orange crayons. Both of them insist that they are the color of the Sun, and they don’t even talk to each other due to the tension. Other crayons are aware of this tension and complain about the tension. Green crayon even asks Duncan to resolve the issue. The anthropomorphism of all the crayons is very creative and convincing.
The Crayon Box that Talked
(Author: Shane DeRolf, Illustrator: Shane Derolf & Michael Letzig, Age range: 3~7 years)
There was a box of many crayons in a toy store. Many crayons in a crayon box did not get along: Yellow and Green do not like Red. They do not like Orange either for unknown reasons. They are aware of their problem. Then, a girl bought the box of crayons and brought home. At home, she drew a picture of grass, sky, sun, and cloud. When the drawing is completed, all the colors understand the value of other colors and begin to like others.
The book has a simple plot. A number of anthropomorphized color crayons do not like each other without specific reasons. After they get together to draw a picture, they understand and respect each other. The following quote at the end of the book is noteworthy, “Each one of us unique. But, when we get together, the picture is complete.” It can be a life-time lesson for our children.
The book explains the importance of harmonization and co-operation.
Monsters Love Colors
(Author and Illustrator: Mike Austin, Age range: 4~8 years)
Three monsters have their own favorite colors: red, yellow, and blue. Three monsters meet other friends and ask them what their favorite colors are. When three friends answered orange, green, purple, the requested colors are made by the right combinations.
Monsters and colors are an interesting combination. The story is quite simple but educational. The story illustrates how the combinations of the basic colors of Red, Yellow, and Blue create orange, green, and purple.
In addition, the book shows carefully selected rhymes. For example, Red is the color of Roar, Snore, and more. Yellow is the color of Prowl, howl, and growl. Blue is the color of scribble, dribble, and nibble. Children can get familiar with the mixture of the primary colors.
The Crayon Man
(Author: Natascha Biebow, Illustrator: Steven Salerno, Age range: 6~9 years)
Edwin Binney was an inventor who was always astonished by the beauty of the colors everywhere. One day, he invented the first white chalk. Then, he was inspired by his wife and children that a stronger, cheaper, colorful, and non-poisonous drawing tools were required. So, he and his team at the company they founded, Binney and Smith, invented the right colorful drawing tools through experiments and successfully built the first colorful crayons, Crayola crayon, through finding the right formula of the materials. The reaction of the first eight-color Crayola crayons was overwhelming. The first Crayola box of 8 crayons was introduced at the St. Louis World fair in 1904 and won the gold medal.
It is a true story of Edwin Binney (1866~1934) who invented the white chalk and colorful crayon. The book illustrates how Edwin Binney was motivated to invent colorful crayons. His motivation and hard-work to help many children all over the world to have the tools of creativity will be remembered. Please note that the attached video is narrated by Natascha Biebow, the author of the Crayon Man.