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The Picture Book Buzz

A Day With No Crayons - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Some of my most interesting evenings have been spent "camping" in the family room, around a fire, when the power went out. Building Lego cities into the evening, playing card games and reading by the light of a lantern, everything just seemed magical. As long as the power didn't remain out for too long.

Minor deprivations often resulted in new games, fun with old, forgot toys, and a jump start to our imaginations. The same thing happened to Liza when her crayons were banned for a day. Though this is a bit of an older book, I really like its message on creativity and exploring outdoors.

A Day With No Crayons

Author: Elizabeth Rusch

Illustrator: Chad Cameron

Publisher: Rising Moon (2007)

Ages 4-8



Artistic creativity, nature, and ingenuity

Synopsis (From Barnes & Noble):

When Liza's mother takes away her beloved crayons, her world suddenly goes gray. How does the budding artist respond? She squirts her toothpaste angrily and stomps through mud puddles. Through these acts, Liza inadvertently creates art-and eventually discovers color in the world around her.

Opening Lines:

Liza loved her crayons. She treasured turquoise, adored apricot, and flipped over fuchsia.

In fact, coloring made Liza feel tickle-me-pink.

Every day, Liza filled her coloring books with aquamarine oceans, royal purple plums, and screamin' green dragons.

She papered the walls of her room, the hallway, and the bathroom with the bright, neat pages.

Why I Like This Book:

Coloring on walls, floors around rugs (to make the rugs larger), or "enhancing" your big sisters books often seem to be a universal event for children. Given the explosion of adult coloring books, it is obviously an activity that all ages continue to enjoy.

When Liza's mom took away her crayons, I feared her creativity would be stifled. The sudden shift to grey and sepia tones, further highlighted Liza's misery. But as her day progressed, Liza discovered the blue of toothpaste swirls, the brown of splattered mud, and the green of grass stains. As she explored outdoors, Liza discovered the vibrancy of colors in nature and all around her. Using nature to draw and color, Liza created imaginative images all throughout her neighborhood. The final image is amazing, representing both Liza's and the illustrator's immense creativity.

I love the invitation offered to children (an adults) to look at nature for color and materials. Some of my fondest memories involve creating beach pictures with my grandmother. Hunting for that perfect rock, driftwood stick, or clump of seaweed to finish the image. I hope this book inspires kids and adults to get outdoors and create in new ways.

Related Activities:

- make pounded flower book marks.

- discuss a time that you got in trouble for breaking a rule. What can you use to make pictures? (Things on the playground? Items in the classroom? Maybe things found on a walk?)

- group crayons (other colored items) to make a rainbow and talk about the color families.

-make a self collage with recyclable items or things found on a walk.

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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