Richard Scarry

Published July 7, 2009 by Molly


If the name “Lowly Worm” means anything to you, you’ll leap at the mention of children’s book illustrator Richard Scarry. A Boston-born artist who moved to Switzerland in his middle age, Scarry spent eight hours a day at his desk cranking out classics like Richard Scarry’s Please & Thank You and Richard Scarry’s Find Your ABC’s, both of which were canny combinations of storytelling and lesson-learning. If you’re a young adult of a certain age, it is possible that Scarry is responsible for the greater part of your vocabulary.

“It’s a precious thing to be communicating to children, helping them discover the gift of language and thought,” Scarry said of his work. “I’m happy to be doing it.”

Very happy indeed, if his more than 300 published books are any indication. Like all the best children’s book illustrators, Richard Scarry was particularly adept at stuffing his drawings with tantalizing details that stuck in the minds of young kids. His pièce de résistance was 1963’s Best Word Book Ever, which included illustrations of more than 1,400 objects.

Herewith, an Introduction to the Busy World of Richard Scarry:

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6 comments so far

  1. sean murphy says:

    I never thought about how important to me these were until I started sharing them with my kids and you see the art and the images and it is like a flood of childhood memories. I never knew there was a cartoon, my son will be psyched.

    Thanks for posting this.

  2. Daniel says:

    Such a nostalgic delight.

    It’s always been curiously interesting to me how some remnants from our childhoods take on such meaning and emotional impact when we grow old and look back. Sometimes it seems all we really need to discover ourselves and who we are again – in this lost, muddied world of adulthood – is simply to dig out the different pieces of our childhood and spend the afternoons carefully examining each piece, putting the jigsaw slowly back together again.

    Looking at this, I’m definitely now remembering the pieces of my childhood that Richard Scarry provided.

  3. Gus says:

    I had totally forgotten about Richard Scarry until my boy got one from the library (then I subsequently found my old books at my mums house) I remember pouring over them looking at every single detail just like my son does.

    They are a bit of a bugger to read aloud though.

  4. Jason Landry says:

    In Canada, an updated cartoon called Busytown Mysteries can be found on CBC. Richard Scarry is one of the executive producers:

  5. AxedCrown says:

    Holy crap. The image at the top was my favorite page as a kid. The fire pigs. I would make my parents skip to that page because the fire pigs were pure awesome. My sister ripped out the page for vengeance.