|Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2019|
This biography/creation story behind CRAYOLA crayons offers multiple themes, including:
- Edwin Binney following his truest self, from being a boy who recognized and embraced vivid color and on a mission to share that with others throughout his life;
- The power of business collaboration, innovation, and initiative;
- The importance of experimentation and perseverance (STEM);
- Spouses, particularly women, as contributors and supporters, not just tea-servers in an era of gender diminishment;
- Figurative and descriptive, dare I say COLORFUL language;
- and more!
Add to that the crisp and colorful Photo-Doc-How-It-Is-Made spread in the back matter, an accessible bit of archival and research detail about Edward Binney and his family, and one of the most appealing and useful bibliography/reference pages I've seen in any picture book (and I see a lot).
I'm tempted to add a caution that this is NOT a diverse story. Then again, it is NOT fiction. It is HISTORY, and it portrays a very WHITE society in which education, investment, and thus events like these occurred. Note the invisibility of any non-white individuals involved in the upkeep of that society, which was also a characteristic of that time and place.
A significant part of me felt sad as I turned these vivid and appealing pages. All the visible skin was "FLESH"-toned. (Remember that crayon color, now retired?) The cover illustration allows for the existence of other-than-white in that time period. But the final page, which pulls the text into the present, presents a delightful pair of kids/friends (one white-ish, one brown-ish, and neither very FLESH-ish) using crayons to pour their creatively colorful minds and hearts onto sheet after sheet of paper.
I highly recommend this for any age for the quality text, perfectly-suited illustrations, and outstanding bonus features. It is also an impressive mentor text on many levels, especially for the youngest through adults with a dream of creating nonfiction picture books.
I was tempted to include a photo of the end papers, but I challenge you to get this book in your own hands and check them out. The challenge statement included within those end papers is a life goal for anyone, any age.