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Friday, July 19, 2019

the Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons, written by Natascha Biebow and illustrated by Steven Salerno. Houghton MIfflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2019. $25.50 ages 6 and up

"Edwin thought about his company's

When you drew a picture with a gray
slate pencil, it rubbed off at the drop
of a hat.

When you drew a picture with their
white chalk, it smudged everywhere.

If you drew a picture with Edwin's new ... "

Edwin Binney wanted the best for children ... something to color with that was safe and cheap enough for their parents to purchase. His invention of Crayola crayons has obviously had a lasting effect on art programs in school and in homes everywhere.

Edwin was a man to whom color brought great happiness. He spent his days working with and selling carbon black, 'a new kind of pigment'. Also an inventor of slate pencils (gray), chalk (white), and a black wax crayon for writing on various surfaces, he was encouraged by his wife (and others) to invent better crayons for children.

His path was set. He led a team who tried and failed, then tried again ... always experimenting to find the perfect mix that would provide a world of color for children as they went about creating their personal masterpieces.

"They came home covered in color.
They experimented some more and discovered -
a pinch of this pigment
a sploosh of that one,
a little hotter, a little cooler ...

and voila. LOTS of different shades! 
Now there were greens, oranges, violets, and pinks too!
Edwin came home covered in color."

Children who use crayons with abandon will recognize many of the names given to the wide array of crayons available today. The first eight packs had everything children at the time needed for their artistic pursuits ... and their parents could afford to buy them. Each new color invented had to have a name appropriate to its shade and provide children the colors needed to draw anything they wanted to draw.

The illustrations are bold, historically accurate, filled with expression and detail. Go to Steven Salerno's website at , to see how he created the many wonderful images for this entertaining read.

Text boxes throughout provide additional, relevant information for readers. Follow-up matter provides a 10-step look at the way Crayola crayons are made today; as well, there is further biographical data provided for Edwin Binney, and a selected bibliography. 

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