Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Most influential picture book

When I read Harold and the Purple Crayon last year, a lightbulb went off in my head.

This book is wonderful on so many levels:
  • Its theme of imagination -- Harold's wild imagination draws us into his magical adventure
  • How it surprises and delights with the random creatures and objects that Harold draws to help him out of sometimes sticky situations (pun intended re: pie scene)
  • The likable character of Harold, who has mad reasoning skills, yet is still believable as a 4-year old
  • Crockett Johnson's subtle wordplay that I never caught as a child, but tickled me when I recognized it as an adult
Harold and the Purple Crayon is so different from today's vividly-colored picture books. Inside, the illustrations are black and white with the only exception being the purple crayon and its marks. However, its muted color scheme reflects the gentle nature of the book.

Also impressive is its staying power -- enough to inspire numerous adaptions including an HBO series, an episode of The Simpsons, and an iPad app -- not to mention Harold Underdown's popular kidlit resource website, "The Purple Crayon".  Did Crockett Johnson ever imagine how far reaching his little book would be?

I'd read Harold and the Purple Crayon as a child, and enjoyed it; but as an adult and a budding picture book writer, I would call it the book that has influenced my picture book writing the most.

What picture book(s) has influenced or inspired you?


  1. Hmm, too early to say which PB book has influenced me the most.
    I do love Harold and the Purple Crayon. Will have to re-read it again, didn't realize there was subtle word play.

  2. Oooh I don't know that one, will have to see if they have it in my local library. So many books, so little time!