Harold, armed with his purple crayon goes on an adventure of a lifetime. Up high buildings, into the water, to the moon and so on. Crockett Johnson’s classic will be loved by toddlers and up.
Harold is just immense fun; that’s all, just fun.But, also, Harold does exactly as he pleases. There are no adults to demonstrate or remonstrate. It comes out of the same theory: Let the kid do his own thing. Let him have fun. It’s fun. Not to teach; there are no lessons in “Harold.” You have fun, you do what you like and no one’s going to punish you. You’re just a kid.
This quote by Maurice Sendak about Harold And The Purple Crayon is bang on. What a ride bald, little Harold takes us on. We follow his infant steps and pretty soon his purple crayon takes us to places that pop up, dip down, latch on to the moon and up a tree before his bedtime. No road ahead? No problem. Just draw one. The road seems endless? Just get off it and take a walk on the back road. Nothing and nobody can stop Harold who is on his adventure. Harold also seems to adapt at whatever twists and turns that come up. It is, so be. This book could easily be mistaken as a Zen board for infants and adults.
The simple lines by Crockett will take the child to new fun places and is like turning the corner and finding a rainbow standing in front of you.
As a child, Crockett drew extensively. He thought visually and he drew everywhere. Harold’s form is said to be drawn from his childhood drawings. Harold almost did not get published. Ursula Nordstrom felt the book lacked that special something to be found in a picture book. On re-reading, she realised that Harold pulled his readers into an alternative universe.
In the book, Crocket Johnson: A Life in Art, we learn that a contract worth $750 was made to Johnson in 1954. The book sold 10,000 copies and Harper Collins had to print 7500 more.
Johnson went on to do sequels of Harold. They included,
- Harold’s Fairy Tale (1956)
- Harold’s Trip to the Sky (1957)
- Harold at the North Pole (1958)
- Harold’s Circus (1959)
- A Picture for Harold’s Room (1960)
- Harold’s ABC (1963)
After great success as a writer and later a painter, Johnson fell ill with cancer and awaited his end with fear. His friend Dr.Gil Rose in order to help Johnson handle his anxiety and fear asked him to think what Harold would do in this situation. Johnson is said to have applied this perspective and calmed himself down.
The creator of Harold may be gone but his art and characters live on forever, inspiring and entertaining generation after generation.
Harold and his Purple Crayon tell us,
Just Be. Let your imagination take you places and help you do unimaginable things. Be free and flow like the river would till it meets the sea.