Before his diagnosis on the autism spectrum, I knew that the Navigator’s intense love of dinosaurs was unusual for his age.
How? As he got older his interest and enthusiasm for dinosaurs did not diminish but the available dinosaur “stuff” did.
There was very little dinosaur “stuff” that was designed for an older child. He no longer fit into dinosaur pajamas or dinosaur themed clothing. Dinosaur-related items stayed “babyish” while he was looking for more realistic dinosaur portrayals.
In short, his continuing interest was outside the marketing bell curve for kids his age. He was not moving on to those items that most kids his age became interested in – at least in the eyes of Madison Avenue.
This meant he had to make choices about what kind of “stuff” he wanted. A kiddie-looking dinosaur lunch box was ok, but disappointingly there was no good dinosaur choice for his school backpack.
But what if he could create his own dinosaur art on his backpack that could mature as his interest matured and developed? How special and unique would that be!
This is the concept behind Chalk Wild‘s Doodle Book Bag. With an ingenious design, the outer side of the book bag is clear plastic on which the Navigator can use liquid chalk pens to draw whatever he wants.
The neon-colored ink stands out against the black of the book bag, showing off the uniqueness of the artwork and the backpack. Plus, there is zippered access to the “art canvas” side in which he can slip colored paper, or some other artwork, and personalize the book bag even more.
And if he decides that he wants to draw a different dinosaur or, perhaps, the TARDIS instead, he can easily erase it and start again. Today a T-rex. Tomorrow a troodon. The next day a chasmosaurus.
The book bag, which is essentially a backpack, is very well made – the zippers move easily, the stitching is solid, and the interior is generously proportioned, with well-positioned pockets on the sides for holding writing implements, and other school supplies.
There are two mesh pockets on the sides of the backpack, one designed especially for the chalk pens to be sealed into the pocket and carried with the book bag.
Which means that when the Navigator finds himself overwhelmed and stressed at school, he can start drawing on his backpack as a calming tool.
It is not often that we find a product that can serve more than one purpose. In the Chalk Wild Doodle Book Bag we have something that can both allow him to personalize his backpack and express his interests, as well as serve as a resource to help him when needed.
So what did he draw?
The pens required priming by pushing down on the tip – when he did that with the white, it released more color than he was anticipating.
He liked the look, however, and stood the backpack up so that the ink ran down to get a lightning bolt look. He called it “lightning strike at midnight.”
And yes, the dinosaur is in blue in the middle; that is until he erases it and draws something else – because he can.
This review is my honest personal opinion. I received compensation for this review and a Chalk Wild Doodle Book Bag to sample.
Proceeds generated from this site go to local autism and special education needs, Autcraft, a Minecraft server for children on the autism spectrum and their families (Autcraft.com), and to Project Hero, a non-profit organization that supports wounded veterans to promote a full and fast rehabilitation (ProjectHero.org).
Also published on Medium.