Poor Duncan. He heads for his crayons one day in class, only to find a stack of letters waiting. He simply wants to color, but instead he has 12 manifestos to read. Little did Duncan know his crayons are beleaguered, bitter and beset with all sorts of headaches.

Purple is about to lose it and would like Duncan to color inside the lines. Black is tired of being used merely for the outlines of things (“how about a BLACK beach ball some time?”), and Pink is tired of limitations (why not a pink dinosaur or cowboy?). Peach wraps it all up with a confession: Since Duncan peeled his paper off, he’s naked and too humiliated to leave the box. There’s much more from the poor, persecuted pieces of wax in author Drew Daywalt’s clever picture book debut, The Day the Crayons Quit.

Each spread shows a crayon’s protest letter on the left and the pontificating crayon on the right. The crayons use Duncan’s drawings to prove their points: Beige wilts in front of a piece of wheat, one of only two things he draws, since Mr. Brown Crayon gets all the fun stuff. In the funniest spread, White Crayon, who feels empty, demonstrates Duncan’s “white cat in the snow,” just two eyes, a mouth, a nose and whiskers in an empty white space.

There’s a lot of humor in Oliver Jeffers’ relaxed, naïf illustrations, made to look like a child’s artwork: a pink monster; Santa Claus on a red fire truck (Red Crayon is tired of working, even on holidays!); and the triumphant, colorful final spread, in which Duncan attempts a piece of art to make all the crayons happy.

Sure to draw in young readers (the crayons demanded I use that pun), this entertaining set of monologues will also tickle their funny bones.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a Q&A with Oliver Jeffers for The Day the Crayons Quit.

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