I am SOOOOOO behind in recapping events but I’m here now and I can’t wait to recap this incredible event that I attended last week at the Barnes and Noble, store The Grove.
In the past month or so, hospital Barnes and Noble has been promoting a children’s book titled “The Day the Crayons Quit.” See, here’s the thing. Some of the crayons feel a bit overworked, and some feel a little underworked. White crayon feels left out, and peach crayon is afraid to leave the box because his wrapper was peeled off. Pink crayon wants to be used more and orange and yellow keep fighting over who is the real color of the sun. The crayons were ready to quit.
So Barnes and Noble asked people all over to write letters to the crayons, asking them to not quit! And of course, I wrote my own letter to the crayons just a few days before they were to release their decision.
Now I was heading out to the Barnes and Noble that day to meet Kami Garcia, for her released of Unmarked, the second of her series, and I learned that this event was going on the same day. Since I have a pretty hefty drive out to Los Angeles, I figured I’d leave a little earlier and enjoy this event. I knew I would probably be the only solo adult there but this is a totally cute book and I was looking forward to it.
Crayons Don’t Quit! The sign, the balloons and the letters all working together to convince the crayons not to quit!
Lita, who is the events manager at this particular Barnes and Noble, getting her face painted for the event. Lita is SO awesome and always puts together the best events.
I decided to join in on the fun and get my own crayon painted on me. I sided with pink crayon, because poor Duncan thinks pink is a girl color and never used it. Pink Crayon is totally awesome and I’m always on its side!
Here we have Lita introducing the author of the book, Drew Daywalt, and making one last plea to the crayons NOT to quit!
Here we have Drew Daywalt reading from the book, reading all the letters the crayons have written to their owner, Duncan, explaining the reasons why they’re so upset!
Myself with the author :) He was SO awesome, did voices, interacted so well with all the kids, and wrote a really fantastic children’s book.
My autographed copy of the book :) He even drew a little Tardis for me since I was wearing my Tardis shirt!
Sara: Why kids books?
Drew: I grew up in one of Ohio’s most haunted houses. That does not answer your question, however, part two of that is when I was a kid, i was just entrenched in fantasy and escapism and horror movies, and my brothers were older and let me stay up late and watch horror movies with them. I had this weird diet of old 60s black and white Jack Arnold movies, like Tarantula and Creature from the Black Lagoon. And also, when Mom got home, she read me Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl. So that sort of accounts for my doing monster movies and kids’ books. Also, in college I was a dual major, I studied screen writing and I was also a children’s lit major.
Sara: So what gave you the inspiration for “The Day the Crayons Quit”?
Drew: Uh, let’s see, ten years after film school and ten years ago, now, I had an instructor who has won a Newbury award, he always encouraged me in college to write kids books and to get into children’s publishing and I was always like, “No, I’m going to Hollywood”. I got really frustrated when working on a movie and wrote a story focused on a box of crayons that looked like that; peach was unwrapped, blue was a little short. Black was kind of used, pink wasn’t used at all, and I thought, I’ll personify them and since I was and still am, to a degree, screenwriter, my strength is dialogue. Ah, I can give these crayons a voice, and what I said apparently resonated with a lot of people because everyone had that same box with the same problems.
Sara: What is your favorite crayon?
Drew: My favorite crayon is brown but he’s not in this book, that’s all I will say.
Sara: Well, a little mystery! Awesome! What are some of your favorite children’s books?
Drew: I am Seuss, Sendak and Dahl disciple, because these guys wrote stuff for us as children but never talked down to us, never placated, never seemed to sweeten anything. They took very serious subjects, and dark subjects, and made them funny. You know, in this case, I tried a subject that was discontent, a group disagreement, conflict resolution and I wanted to make it funny, and it ended up being about teamwork. So I wanted to take a somewhat dark, and conflict-y subject and that’s why I love these guys. Dr Seuss did war, class issues, consumerism. Sendak tackled social issues and fears. You know, you look closely at Where the Wild Things Are and you’ll find sixteen different interpretations.
Sara: What are some of the best reactions you’ve gotten so far (to The Day the Crayons Quit)?
Drew: Let’s see, one of my favorites was a crazy woman who was convinced I was a racist, for not including brown crayon and for implying that pink was the color of flesh and the only color of flesh. And, what she didnt’ know was that I’m in an interracial marriage and that myself, my wife, my kids, none of us are the same color, and nor do I have a problem with anyone of a different color. So that was fun.
My favorite reaction probably to the book, on a positive note, is teachers, special teachers are using it for autism, because they have trouble identifying the emotion by just describing it, but when you put a color to it, it makes an easy label. Red is all worked, blue is exhausted and happy, which is different from gray, who is exhausted and desperate. So they are able to teach emotions to those who have a problem recognizing them, so that was really awesome to hear.
Sara: Anybody who wants to write books: what advice do you have for them?
Drew: For anyone who wants to be a writer, keep writing, and in eleventh grade, I tried to get into AP english, and I had a teacher who was the snooty, mean teacher, not the nice one, not the cool one, not the Dead Poet’s society teacher. She said, you are not ready for the AP class and I told her, I want to be a writer, I want to be challenged. And she said, she took me outside, took me to the front stoop, and told me, “Drew, not everyone is meant to be writer, and even if you have that desire, its better for you to find out now that you don’t have it.” I like to say the opposite of that, forget everyone else, do your thing, write everyday. Sometimes its crap, sometimes you know it, sometimes you don’t, I still write crap every day. Keep writing, and you’ll do it. Keep writing and you will find that gem. You will, everyone does, for those who stick around with it.
Thank you Lita for being on such an amazing fun event. I loved the confetti, and the trumpet player and the dancing children and the crayons painting on everyone’s faces and arms. I loved Drew reading the book and I really loved being able to talk to such a great author and an inspiring guy. What was just a convenience to a girl driving kind of far ended up being a truly fun event and I am glad I went.
And thanks to Drew for taking the time to sit down with me and do this interview. I hope to see more fun kids books from you in the future!