I don’t know about you, but I sure could use a dose of something bright at the end of this dark week, and the story of Edwin Binney fits the bill. Binney invented that beloved staple of childhood: the Crayola crayon. He’d had success in making dustless chalk and a slate pencil that wrote smoothly, and after some trial and error, he found a way to vastly improve the quality of crayons, as well. At the time, crayons were a crumbly mix of oil and charcoal, but Binney thought to add wax to make them stronger. He and his team then worked with rocks and minerals, crushing, sifting, and heating them to generate a multitude of colors. At last, in June of 1903, Binney and his crew figured out just the right combination of wax, clay, and pigment for a new and improved crayon. His wife is credited with the famous name: she suggested combining craie, the French word for stick of chalk, and “ola” from oleaginous. Biebow’s narrative is light and airy, a perfect read-aloud. Salerno’s full-bleed illustrations are similarly cheerful, rendered appropriately in a lovely rainbow of hues. Kids will be fascinated by the back matter, a series of captioned photos that show today’s process for manufacturing crayons. There is also a page-length profile of Binney, and small factoids are scattered throughout the main text. This picture book biography is a happy look at a man who left his mark on history by improving a product that has brought decades of smiles to children’s faces, something we need now more than ever.
Published by grandgirl71
I've worked as a youth librarian at the Fayetteville Public Library in Fayetteville, Arkansas, for 13 years. I have been the selector for our juvenile nonfiction collection since I started and really enjoy talking to teachers and other librarians about the best in new juvenile nonfic. Things have gotten even more fun as I have taken on our library's juvenile fiction collection, as well! I also lead a preschool story time, write and direct plays for a small tween acting troupe called PlayAct, coordinate two literacy support programs with therapy dogs and shelter cats, lead a book discussion at an assisted living facility, coordinate after-school workshops, and write puppet shows and skits that my coworkers and I perform. In my previous life, I was an eighth grade language arts teacher. I still get to share my love of words with kids, but I don't have to deal with standardized testing. HUZZAH! View all posts by grandgirl71