When Crayola announced this week that it would be retiring a color from its 24-pack for the first time, Drew Daywalt headed to the store. “I went out and bought a 24-pack today,” he tells TIME. “I gotta have it in case it’s gone.” Like other savvy customers, he’ll be able to hang onto the soon-to-disappear Dandelion crayon after it’s removed from boxes.
Daywalt knows more about crayons than most folks: The children’s book author has topped bestseller lists with his hits The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home, popular with children and parents alike. Of all the 24 crayons in the Crayola box, Daywalt said he would have expected Red Violet to be the one to get the ax (“That’s like it’s kind of red and purple — it doesn’t really have a home”). Crayola hasn’t yet announced a replacement color, Daywalt’s vote is plaid, striped or rainbow, “the acceptance crayon.”
Daywalt has quite a following in the crayon world. “A week doesn’t go by that I don’t get an art teacher or a teacher who has crayons in the classroom writing to say, ‘Thanks a lot, my crayons are naked now, they’ve torn off all their wrappers,” as happens to a crayon character in the story.
“Every time I do a school visit, I get some really cool new crayon melted project, which in a way is kind of horrifying,” he says. “They give me crayons melted on paper and I’m like, ‘Oh God, their heads are melting!’” The best crayon-themed gift he’s received: a pea green, 3-ft.-long, knitted, stuffed crayon resembling his character Esteban the Magnificent. Daywalt toted him along on tour, including bringing him to airport bars.
Though Daywalt says he hasn’t collaborated with Crayola, he has a great fondness for the company’s products: “They were my best friends when I was a little boy, and they helped me draw all my favorite Star Wars characters,” he says. “My goal was to make something that was as universally loved as the items it was about.”
Asked whether he has any future crayon-themed projects in the pipeline, he demurs. “I’ll just say I’m not allowed to tell you.”