Remember your dog-eared box of crayolas growing up? Was it the standard 24 pack? Or perhaps you had the 64 piece assortment with built-in sharpener? Children’s author Drew Daywalt recently talked crayons with St. James’ students ages 4-8. Daywalt’s book, “The Day the Crayons Quit” was selected by Amazon.com as the Best Children’s Book of 2013. It tells the story of a box of crayons that goes on strike, refusing to be used anymore, a sit-in so to speak, over various grievances. For instance, Red resents having to work on holidays (Christmas and Valentine’s Day) and Gray is stressed out from always filling in big animals like elephants and whales. White feels invisible.
Daywalt’s March 10th visit was part of St. James’ Episcopal School’s Visiting Authors Program which has been active for more than 20 years. The in-demand author talked about his upbringing then brought out his own childhood box of crayons, describing how each color had a different meaning and influence on him. The pink crayola was perfectly clean and unused – considered a ‘girlie’ color, Daywalt stayed clear. But now he says he understands that there are no such things as “boy” or “girl colors,” and pink is his favorite hue. Up until last year Daywalt was best known as a writer and director of crime and horror films, such as “Stark Raving Mad” in 2001, “Bedfellows” in 2008 and “Camera Obscura” in 2010. “The Day the Crayons Quit” is illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, the winner of numerous awards.
After hearing the author read and discuss his work, the students followed up with lots of questions, like why Daywalt’s peach crayon has lost its wrapper (overworked skin color). “They wanted more,” said Christina Olague, St. James Library and Media Specialist. The very generous author insisted on meeting with each grade separately, according to Olague. Kindergarten student Nathanael Penny (pictured at left) even went the next step to combine the crayon theme together with the book “The Pencil” by Allan Ahlberg in his own original story.
Other authors recently visiting St. James’ have included illustrator Jon Klassen who won the 2013 Caldecott Medal for ”This Is Not My Hat” and illustrated Lemony Snicket’s “The Dark.”
Color St. James purple, the symbolic color of teachers committed to making a difference in young children’s lives.