Thursday, September 10, 2009

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Today I'm celebrating a classic. I haven't even started going through my collection of children's books yet and doing reviews of those but I will. But this past week I finally picked up a copy of Crockett Johnson's immortal classic, Harold and the Purple Crayon. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this book.

For those of you that have somehow missed this book, and I've met a surprising number, the simple story follows Harold on his nighttime adventures with a purple crayon. Harold decides to go for a walk in the moonlight but there is no moon. So he draws one...and a path to walk along. When he grows hungry he draws a picnic, and when he falls into his own sea, he draws a boat. Over and over the purple crayon and Harold create the world. He draws mountains and then climbs them. He creates a hot air balloon to go sailing in. And finally, when he's good and tired, he draws his room and his bed and goes to sleep.

If I had to pick one book that shows the power of imagination in a child's world, this would be it. We would play for hours as children with sticks and stones, creating elaborate worlds and this story reminds me of those games. With a plain white background, Crockett Johnson brings his character's world to life. There is so much joy and humor in this book. For example, when Harold gets lost trying to find his way home, he remembers to ask a police officer for help. So he draws a policeman and asks. Other than Harold everything is simply done. The sea is a squiggly line that Harold draws while shaking and stepping backward. The balloon is just a circle at first until Harold draws a basket. But even with the simplicity, or perhaps because of it, we are reminded of how much fun drawing used to be. This book reminds me how an imagination is the best toy a person can have.

I read this book to my girls at knitting this past week. Several of them had never heard it so we had storytime in the coffeehouse. I read and turned the pages and we laughed and giggled and ohhed and awwed. It was so much fun. I'm not surprised that this story, simple as it is, has stood the test of time. It is just too much fun.

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