Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Harold and the Purple Crayon

For this week’s post, I’ll do yet another children’s book. Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson, was a favorite bedtime story of mine as a child. Johnson wrote and illustrated this series of stories about a boy who goes on adventures by creating an imaginary world through the use of a simple purple crayon.

I have a lot of respect for authors who write and illustrate their children’s books. I feel that because the same person creates both the words and pictures, their ideas are better preserved. Sure, some authors aren’t visual artists, but then by using an illustrator for the images, some of their original ideas of how the character should look or what the scene is, can be lost if they don’t communicate well with the illustrator.

In this case, the words and images are rather sparse, but the minimal amount of text helps the reader to focus on the strong, line driven pictures (not to mention the fact that the book is geared towards children learning to read!). Even though Harold and the Purple Crayon was first created in 1955, it has a timeless quality to it because the images are similar to doodles that kids first create when they’re drawing, so by pairing those simple drawings with easy to read words, kids can easily relate to Harold and comprehend the story better.

The fanciful purple lines that make up Harold’s world have stuck with me. So much, in fact, that I plan on dressing up as a purple crayon for Halloween this year! It’s a sweet story that promotes creativity, both visually and verbally, at a level that anyone, young or old, can appreciate.


  1. commenting on the artist slash author portion of your post... i agree with you that someone will better illustrate their vision or work than an outsider. that being said i hope that all of the authors out there with great stories lose either all their finger tips or at least their thumbs. us illustrators who write like infants need work. :)

  2. I remember this! I'm glad you posted it, I forgotten about how much I liked this when I was younger.

    In regards to creating both their own story and illustration, I feel that it can go either way. As illustrators, I think it's a good challenge for us when someone gives us a character and stories that we have to envision ourselves. Saying that though, I would be annoyed to have someone else do the visual part of a story I created. Depending on how it's visually represented from the original, it can be better or worse. I guess think it's up to chance really.