‘The Day the Crayons Came Home’
By Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, Philomel, ages 6-8, $17.99
‘The Day the Crayons Came Home” arrives, fittingly, in the high season of blockbusters, sequels, and blockbuster sequels. The latest book from author Drew Daywalt and illustrator Oliver Jeffers is a follow-up to their 2013 smash hit, “The Day the Crayons Quit,” which has more than 1.1 million copies in print and was recently optioned for film. Their sequel features some of the same colorful characters — disgruntled crayons — and mixed media techniques that made the first book a favorite and springs few surprises too.
Like a summer hit for the big screen, this book comes with special effects, which can only be appreciated with the lights off: a couple of spooky pages near the middle of the book glow in the dark.
Despite the brief flash of technical trickery, “The Day the Crayons Came Home” hews closely to the crayons and their plights. Readers of the first book will remember that it took an epistolary form: underappreciated, overlooked crayons wrote letters of protest to a boy named Duncan, complaining about working conditions — overworked Blue and Red, underutilized Beige. This time the crayons have more serious problems and they confess their troubles on vintage postcards. The sunny scenes depicted belie the crayons’ often dire conditions. Remember Orange and Yellow sniping over who should color the sun? Like some kind of gruesome fable, the two waxy foes end up melded together, melted by the heat of the sun. Maroon Crayon, used only once to draw a scab, ends up lost in the couch cushions, snapped in half when Duncan’s dad sits on him. After a run through the dryer, Turquoise emerges with his head stuck to one of Duncan’s socks.
When I was a teenage baby sitter my favorite sittee, a spectacularly sensitive girl, once confessed that she felt guilty for not coloring with all of her crayons equally. Will she be delighted or devastated by this new book? It’s hard to say. I know for certain that by telling stories from the points of view of crayons, giving voices to the small and ignored, Daywalt and Jeffers have created two books that offer plenty of charm and fun, but also make children feel deeply understood.