In praise of Richard Scarry

I just finished writing a way too long comment on the FUSE 100 list. —

It is a great, great list … but the name of one of the greatest — perhaps the greatest — kidlitters is missing: Richard Scarry.

So here’s my comment:

Four of my 10 made it, so that’s not bad. But I had Scarry on my list twice and I’m really disappointed that he didn’t make it.

It’s sad to think that he has lost the respect of the kidlit community — and thus falling off library bookstore shelves.

Here was a man so driven to entertain kids that he would load his pictures with endless little treasures – like hiding Goldbug on every page or having Lowly Worm goofing off on the sidelines.

Not just a great artist, but an evolving artist whose early and later styles are vastly different — compare I Am a Bunny to What Do People Do All Day — but both wonderful.

And, let’s not forget, he was a great writer. The Scarry-style is pitch perfect. Both matter-of-fact and absurd and rarely requiring extra explanation.

Aren’t you proud of me for not singling out he books on the list that I would throw out to make room for Scarry?

What more can I say? What Do People Do All Day & I Am A Bunny are treasures, as are many other Scarry books. I’ll make a list if you need it. He belongs in the top 10!


4 Responses

  1. He also understood kids’ love for sheer quantity. Pile on the details! Put 365 stories in one book! I used to look at my giant Richard Scarry pencil, longer than you could ever use up no matter how much you sharpen it, and that book of 365 stories, and just kind of groove on how such things were possible.

  2. Scarry didn’t create books in what’s become the standard picture-book mode, so we don’t think of him when we think of “picture books.”

    In fact, Scarry’s best books have more in common stylistically with comics than with the modern picture book: more words, more pictures on a page, more action.

  3. Yes! Scarry was way ahead of his time with the action-packed, speech-balloon-spotted super-page.

    Which is all the more reason he should be on the list.
    Other speech balloon books — such as more spartan, yet still magnificent Pigeon/Bus — made the list.

    Also, I Am a Bunny is a straight-up picture book, which I listed in my Top 10, but apparently no one else did.

    If “Bunny” had just made it to the list we would have honored two tireless kidlit champions – Scarry and Ole Rissom.

  4. There were many books I loved that didn’t even make the top 100. It’s such a subjective list that I cheered when my favorites made the list but didn’t mind too much when they didn’t. If I’d had more than 10 choices to submit, Best Word Book Ever would have made the top 20 or 30.

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