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How Gurple And Preen Was Created Part 1

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

(Last updated June 24, 2020)

You never know what will come out of a broken crayon….like this book!

PART 1: Debbie’s Found Object Art and Linda Sue Park Writes A Story

Long before Debbie ever thought of doing a picture book with broken crayons, she started experimenting with found object art.

Side note: Debbie’s habit of doodling with objects was inspired by boredom during a dinner with her husband and their friend Ray. Jeff and Ray were talking about something Debbie really wasn’t interested in and she started playing around with her tea bag on a paper napkin.

And suddenly realized that she had never really LOOKED at a tea bag this way before. She added some legs and TA-DAH, it was a creature!

One day, one of her crayons BROKE. She thought about turning the broken pieces into a creature but then wondered what kind of creature would come OUT of a broken crayon…

She started to purposely break crayons! Here are a few more:

Linda Sue Park especially liked this one:

Linda Sue wrote to Debbie asking if she could buy a print. Debbie made and sent a print, but wouldn’t accept payment. Linda Sue sent a donation to We Need Diverse Books in Debbie’s name.

One weekend, Linda Sue and Debbie were both on faculty at the SCBWI Northern Ohio regional conference (a conference for children’s book writers and illustrators):

(Side note re: above photo- Debbie had recently broken her wrist! She ended up putting this pink cast in I’M WORRIED.)

Linda Sue and Debbie started talking, and Debbie told Linda Sue that she was having trouble coming up with a story that she would want to illustrate. They talked some more, and Debbie was thrilled when Linda Sue agreed to consider writing a story to go along with her broken crayon illustrations.

“My initial inspiration was that little robot,” Linda Sue Park says. “When I thought about robots, I immediately thought of Artoo Detoo and BB8 and C3PO, the Star Wars robots. So that led me to a story set in space. The setting never changed, but the story went through many revisions. My brain sort of ‘got stuck’ on the idea of broken-crayon images, instead of focusing on the story. Fortunately, editor Justin Chanda is a genius, and his comments and questions eventually helped me find my way.”