The Busy, Busy World of Richard Scarry

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Tens of millions of children have grown up learning to count, to name things correctly, to behave well, to know what adults do all day, and to recognize cars and trucks and things that go because Richard Scarry taught them how. In dozens of books, with hundreds and hundreds of illustrations, and in witty, memorable words, Scarry revealed to kids that the everyday world was a place that could be understood - and that learning was fun. Although he died in 1994, Scarry has never been more popular, or better loved by...
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Overview

Tens of millions of children have grown up learning to count, to name things correctly, to behave well, to know what adults do all day, and to recognize cars and trucks and things that go because Richard Scarry taught them how. In dozens of books, with hundreds and hundreds of illustrations, and in witty, memorable words, Scarry revealed to kids that the everyday world was a place that could be understood - and that learning was fun. Although he died in 1994, Scarry has never been more popular, or better loved by those who read him. Such a man is worth knowing more about, and this first biography presents the debonair, humorous, charming figure that Scarry was. Illustrated with personal and family photographs and with the artist's own drawings and paintings, this book has been prepared by two old friends and colleagues - Ole Risom, who was the art director for all of Scarry's major books, and Walter Retan, his editor for many years at Random House and Golden Press. In words and pictures the book traces Scarry's life from his roots in Boston to a post-World War II art school training and a brief career in advertising. Bored with selling products, Scarry put himself forward as a children's book illustrator and began turning out pictures for other people's words. Soon, he himself was writing texts, and eventually he hit upon the magic touch that catapulted him to nearly universal popularity - a menagerie full of animal characters who behaved like humans, but with unfailing good humor and grace.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810940000
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/1997
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 10.33 (w) x 12.06 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Scarry
Richard Scarry
Thousands of children have learned to read with Richard Scarry’s busy, colorful, generous books. But Scarry has done more than help kids read. With their bright illustrations, simple text, and gentle lessons on sharing and tolerance, Scarry's stories have also helped kids grow up and relate to people around them.

Biography

"I'm not interested in creating a book that is read once and then placed on the shelf and forgotten," Richard Scarry once said. "I am very happy when people write that they have worn out my books, or that they are held together by Scotch tape. I consider that the ultimate compliment." Considering the propensity of Scarry's preschool-age readership to ask for their favorite books again and again, it's a compliment he must have received often during his tenure as one of the most popular children's authors of all time.

Scarry began his career as a freelance illustrator, drawing pictures to accompany the text of books by children’s authors such as Margaret Wise Brown, Kathryn Jackson, and Patricia Murphy (who became Patricia Scarry when she married Richard in 1949). His first two efforts at writing his own books, The Great Big Car and Truck Book (1951) and Rabbit and His Friends (1953), already suggest some of his interests as an author: travel, technology, and talking animals.

But it was the 1963 publication of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever that put Scarry on bestseller lists, and established his signature style. Its densely packed pages are populated by anthropomorphic animals at work and play, in drawings that reward multiple readings with details children (and parents) may not notice at first glance. The large-format book contains over 1400 illustrated and labeled objects, along with simple introductions to concepts like sharing and helping.

In Busy, Busy World (1965), Scarry's animals star in a series of international adventures in such far-flung locales as Paris, Rome, and Algeria. Well before multiculturalism was an educational buzzword, Scarry believed he could use animals to help children imaginatively enter others' experiences. In a Publishers Weekly interview, he explained that "children can identify more closely with pictures of animals than they can with pictures of another child. They see an illustration of a blond girl or a dark-haired boy, who they know is somebody other than themselves, and competition creeps in. With imagination -- and children all have marvelous imagination -- they can easily identify with an anteater who is a painter or a goat who is an Indian."

Though Scarry soon abandoned exotic settings in favor of the fictional Busytown, he continued to illustrate different roles in society with cherubic critters like Postman Pig, Huckle Cat, Sergeant Murphy, and Lowly Worm. Once he had developed a cast of characters, he introduced them into everything from picture dictionaries and activity books to mystery stories and manners lessons.

Scarry's books, which have sold over 100 million copies and been translated into 30 languages, always reflected his own curiosity about the world. "Wherever I go, I'm watching," he liked to say. "Even on vacation, when I'm in an airport or a railroad station, I look around, snap pictures, and find out how people do things." In relating his discoveries to children, he expanded not only their vocabularies, but their understanding of the "busy world" as a social community in which people work, play, cooperate and share.

Good To Know

From 1941 through 1946, Scarry served in the U.S. Army. The army, he joked, "thought I would make a good radio repairman. My exam mark was minus 13, so they decided to make me a corporal." Scarry wound up as an art director for the Morale Services Section, and eventually rose to the rank of captain.

Richard Scarry's son Huck Scarry is also a writer and illustrator of children's books, including some new additions to the Busytown series. His nickname matches that of the title character in one of his father's favorite books, Huckleberry Finn.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Richard McClure Scarry (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 5, 1919
    2. Place of Birth:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      April 30, 1994
    2. Place of Death:
      Gstaad, Switzerland

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2000

    Busy World Makes it Big

    This title suits the book very well. It goes along with themes and tells interesting stories about fun and exciting animals that work along side of each other to ensure an exciting day with the book. The illustrations also go very well with the book title.

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