The Books of Wonder Picture Book Trap

by Amy Kraft on July 28, 2013


Over the weekend, my niece and star tween reviewer, Elizabeth, was in town with my sister. She just past her 12th birthday, and instead of buying her a birthday present, I introduced her to Books of Wonder. As we entered, I instructed her to pick out any three books and I would buy them for her. I told Olive I’d buy her a book, too, because it’s cruel to take a child into Books of Wonder and have them walk away empty handed. Me, though? I instructed myself to walk away empty handed.

But the draw to their glorious picture book section was too strong. I’ll just pop open the new David Ezra Stein, I told myself. Maybe just a peek at a few others… What’s this? A book by Michael Buckley, who gave us N.E.R.D.S. and The Sisters Grimm, and illustrated by one of my all-time favs, Dan Santat? I peeked inside Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show. Kel Gilligan is a toddler whose stunts include eating broccoli, using the potty, getting dressed all by himself, and even taking a bath to the incredulous shouts of the adults around him. IS HE INSANE? SOMEONE CALL A DOCTOR! As I put this book into my arms knowing I would buy it, it was easy to tell myself it’s for Ozzie because Kel Gilligan is going through all the same things that he is. (But we all know the truth.)

OK, OK. One book. Time to call it a day. Except … is that the new Oliver Jeffer’s book? I pulled The Day the Crayons Quit from the shelf and sat down to read it. Much to my surprise, the big girls sat alongside me and we had a read-aloud right there in the story. The Day the Crayons Quit was written by Drew Daywalt and tells the story of the day a boy named Duncan went to get his crayons, but found a stack of letters in their place. Each crayon has written Duncan a letter complaining about their overuse or lack of use or use for all the wrong things, like this one from Black Crayon:

Hi, Duncan,

I HATE being used to draw the outline of things… things that are colored in by other colors, all of which think they’re brighter than me! IT’s NOT FAIR when you use me to draw a nice beach ball and then fill in the colors of the ball with ALL THE OTHER CRAYONS. How about a BLACK Beach ball sometime? IS that too much to ask?

Your friend,

Black Crayon

To type that does the letter a disservice, because it’s written in Black’s handwriting, along with drawings to illustrate his monochromatic unhappiness. We had so many laughs reading this book (wait until you get to the letters from Pink and Peach!) that I knew I had to have it, too. Fortunately for me, my sister recognized my picture book ailment and bought it for me… er… I mean, Ozzie.

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