Friday, June 3, 2016

Champions of Creativity

Richard Scarry

This iconic children's book author/illustrator was important in my young life, as well as the lives of my children. Tomorrow would have marked his 97th birthday, so Richard Scarry is a Champion today.

Richard Scarry was born in Boston, MA, on June 5, 1919 and was raised in a stable middle-class family - his father owned a small shop. After high school graduation he enrolled in a business college, but soon discovered it wasn't his cup of tea. He dropped out, and entered the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School where he excelled. However, with the onset of World War II he left school to join the US Army.

After the war he returned home and began doing artwork for several magazines, and even illustrated a few children's books by Margaret Wise, Kathryn Jackson, and Patricia Murphy - who he married in 1948. In the 1950's Golden Books began publishing his work, and that's when his career really took off. Images of two of his early books:

Written & Illustrated by Richard Scarry

Written by Jane Werner - Illustrated by Richard Scarry
The fact that I learned to read at a young age on Golden Books is a subject I've blogged about before here on Writ of Whimsy. However, at that time I was paying homage to my maternal grandmother for her role in my becoming a bookworm. Today, I am honoring one of the all-time heroes of children's books. Richard Scarry had a true love for words, which he used in a wonderful way in his stories. His illustrations are some of the most creative and beloved of all-time. His books became best-sellers with the release of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever in 1963. Mr. Scarry's books spawned dozens of toys, videos, and even a television show. During his career he had over
300 books published making over 100 million dollars worldwide.

A cherished copy of one of the Golden Books by Richard Scarry that I read to my three sons.
Few authors of children's books have been in touch with the heart of a child like Richard Scarry. When asked how old he was, he would always put up one hand and laugh, saying "five!"

Mr. Scarry died on April 30, 1994, in Gstaad, Switzerland, where he'd lived since 1972. He left an extraordinary legacy for children. Among his many accolades Richard Scarry was posthumously recognized with a Lifetime Award from The Society of Illustrators in 2012.


  1. This was nice post. As an author of MG and stories for adults, I don't always think about the role illustrators have played in enticing children to love books. I'm glad he had such a successful career.