The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons

illus. by Steven Salerno. 40p. bibliog. photos. HMH. Mar. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781328866844.POP
Gr 1–4–For many children, crayons are ubiquitous, everyday items, but as this informational picture book attests, that wasn't always the case. The hero of this tale is Edwin Binney, American businessman and inventor. In the early 1900s, Binney (who'd already pioneered dustless chalk for teachers) listened to his customers and family when they clamored for a new product: inexpensive, easy-to-use crayons for children. After a lot of messy experimentation with various materials and colors—aspiring scientists and makers may feel a surge of recognition—Binney finally struck the "top-secret formula" that eventually became Crayola crayons. Indeed, the scenes in which Binney and his team wind up covered in splotches of experimental powdered pigment stand out among Salerno's winsome, earnestly old-fashioned illustrations (which are rendered in a Crayola-inspired palette, of course). Inset text boxes on several spreads provide scientific and historical context without disrupting the narrative, and back matter includes a bibliography, biographical facts about Binney, and a photographic guide to "How Crayola Crayons Are Made Today."
VERDICT A colorful addition to the shelves of picture books about inventors and inventions and all things STEAM.

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