I am not an artist. I watch my younger daughter wield a crayon and my older daughter find fascination in mixing colors together to find new ones with awe and admiration. But just because I don’t like to draw myself doesn’t mean that I don’t have a strong appreciation for art itself. I have a love for certain painters and can’t wait until my girls are old enough to enjoy roaming art museums with me. There are lots of books out there about crayons not getting along and children painting themselves and the walls, but A Day with no Crayons shows how art exists everywhere and that we don’t even need a box of crayons to make some special art.
In this lovely book by Elizabeth Rusch, little Liza loved her crayons but got in some serious trouble one day when she ran out of paper and decided to draw on a much larger canvas – her wall. Understandably she got in trouble and her mom took her crayons away. A day with no crayons for Liza would be like a day with no books for J.
Once her crayons are taken away, her world turns grey. But as she mopes around, she unknowingly starts to make art and colors appear here and there. She smears toothpaste in the sink in an impressive recreation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Then she trudges through the puddles and stomps around the basketball courts creating her own Pollack creation. She finally sits down and realizes that there are green grass stains on her pants and thinks that it looks like a mixture of two types of green crayons. This opens her eyes to the colors all around her and her spirits begin to lift, “Liza suddenly saw color everywhere!”
Her crayons may be gone, but Liza starts to create with nature. She uses a muddy stick to draw a tree and real leaves to fill it in. An old red brick can be scraped across the sidewalk like chalk. Pebbles, flower petals and leaves suddenly come alive. Her mother lets her have her crayons back, but Liza has now discovered the world of mixed media and is already letting her art shine.
I really enjoyed this book and I think that J liked the notion that you could use other things to make art. I also liked how much nature played a role in the story. We struggle sometimes getting J to explore outside, but there is a whole world out there to explore and experiment with.