Richard Scarry
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Richard Scarry
Richard Scarry
Born(1919-06-05)June 5, 1919
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedApril 30, 1994(1994-04-30) (aged 74)
Gstaad, Switzerland
OccupationAuthor, illustrator
GenreChildren's books
Notable worksBest Word Book Ever
SpousePatricia Murphy

Richard McClure Scarry (June 5, 1919 - April 30, 1994) was an American children's author and illustrator who published over 300 books with total sales of over 100 million worldwide.[1]

Early life and education

Scarry was born in Boston, Massachusetts, where his parents ran a shop. The Scarry family enjoyed a comfortable life even during the time of the Great Depression. Following high school graduation, Scarry enrolled in a business college but soon dropped out, finding it not to his liking. He then studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he remained until being drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, Scarry worked for the art departments of various magazines before making a career breakthrough in 1949 with Little Golden Books.

In Irish, his surname is pronounced /'s?ka:/, originating on the west coast of Ireland, but English-speakers often pronounce it "scary", and this is the pronunciation used in popular video and audio renditions of his books and stories.

Overview of his work

Scarry's most famous series of books was about Busytown. Scarry's characters were almost always anthropomorphic animals. His books were popular with children throughout the world. Over 100 million copies of his books were sold, and they have been translated into dozens of languages.[1]

While his books are largely populated by common animal species such as dogs, cats, raccoons, bears, owls, goats, foxes, wolves, rabbits, lions, tigers, rats, pigs, mice, chipmunks, alligators, crocodiles, beavers, walruses, and others, he proved to be quite adept at giving human characteristics to a seemingly endless number of creatures. Many of his later illustrations feature characters in traditional Swiss clothing and show architecturally correct drawings of half-timber houses.

Scarry was closely associated with mass-market children's publisher Ole Risom, "the author and illustrator whose [collaborative] books have sold more than 100 million copies around the world. They worked together on dozens of books, including I Am a Bunny, which Risom wrote and Scarry illustrated. First published in 1963, it is still in print."[2] Moreover, Risom and Walter Retan later cowrote the illustrated biography, The Busy, Busy World of Richard Scarry.

In the 1980s and 1990s, many of Scarry's Best Ever books were produced as animated videos, sold to consumers and also aired at times during TLC's Ready Set Learn block. The Busytown books were also adapted into an animated series, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, which was produced by CINAR Animation and Paramount Television and ran on Showtime from 1993 to 1997 and later reran in the late 1990s on Nickelodeon and Noggin. A further animated series, Busytown Mysteries, was commissioned by CBC Television from the Cookie Jar Group (the successor to CINAR) in 2007, and airs on the Kids' CBC Block morning program. Busytown was also featured at the Carnegie Science Center from June 13 through September 8, 2002 in an interactive exhibit entitled "Richard Scarry's Busytown".[3]

From 1976 to about 1978, Playskool produced a series of toy sets titled Richard Scarry's Puzzletown featuring plastic figures of Scarry characters and vehicles as well as cardboard scenery that the child could set up in a grid of grooves in a plastic base.[4][5]

Changes made to reflect social values

A snapshot of Scarry's illustration style from the book, Busy, Busy Town.

Books by Richard Scarry changed over the course of their several editions, often to make them conform to changing social values.

His Best Word Book Ever, which first appeared in 1963, was issued in 1980 as a "new revised edition" which altered images and text to remove material which could be perceived as offensive due to gender, racial, or religious misconceptions. Characters in "cowboy" or "Indian" costumes were either removed or given nondescript clothing. Moral and religious elements and depictions of gender roles were altered or removed (for instance, a menorah was added into a Christmas scene, and the words "he comes promptly when he is called to breakfast", referring to a father bear, were changed to "he goes to the kitchen to eat his breakfast"). Characters engaged in activities reflecting traditional gender roles were altered so as to make the scenes more gender-neutral (e.g., a male character was added into a kitchen scene, a cowboy was replaced with a female gardener and a female scientist, the phrase "pretty stewardess" was changed to "flight attendant", and male characters engaged in traditionally masculine activities such as driving a steamroller were altered into female characters by the addition of hair ribbons or pink flowers, etc.). In some cases these changes necessitated removing whole sections altogether, including the "Out West" section, the "buildings" section (which had depicted a church, a cathedral, and a French Foreign Legion fortress), and sections on painting and music making.[6][7]

Personal life and family

Scarry's wife, Patricia Murphy, was a writer of children's textbooks who met Richard during collaboration when he was a textbook illustrator. She is credited with writing many of the stories in his subsequent children's books, such as Good Night, Little Bear, The Bunny Book, and The Fishing Cat. In 1972 the Scarrys bought a chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland. Here he founded his studio where he spent most of the day (from about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) writing and illustrating his books. His studio contained a single desk, lamp and chair. His wife was told not to bother him except for his hour break for lunch.

Scarry died of a heart attack in Gstaad on April 30, 1994.[1] His papers and drawings are in the collection of the University of Connecticut archives.[8] His son, Richard Scarry, Jr., is also an illustrator, sometimes working under the nickname Huck Scarry, sometimes working in his father's style as Richard Scarry. Huck is the nickname of Huckle Cat, one of the most commonly recurring Busytown characters. Scarry Jr. lives in Vienna, Austria.


Scarry began his career in 1949 as an illustrator of books by other people, specifically Kathryn & Byron Jackson's Mouse's House. He continued as only or primarily an illustrator through 1955, then began turning out original books.

His titles, in order of publication, are:[9]

Golden Books

  • Mouse's House, 1949
  • Duck and His Friends, 1949
  • Two Little Miners, 1949
  • My Little Golden Dictionary, 1949
  • Christopher Bunny and Other Animal Stories, 1949
  • First Book Ever, 1950
  • Animals' Merry Christmas, 1950
  • Here Comes the Parade, 1951
  • The Gingerbread Man, 1953
  • Rabbit and His Friends, 1954
  • The Party Pig, 1954
  • The Bunny Book, 1955
  • Nursery Tales, 1958
  • Cars and Trucks, 1959
  • Firemen and Fire Engine Stamps, 1959
  • Naughty Bunny, 1959
  • Tinker and Tanker (ISBN 0-385-06010-6), 1960
  • Just For Fun (ISBN 0-307-02116-5), 1960
  • Chicken Little, 1960
  • Tinker and Tanker Out West, 1961
  • Tinker and Tanker and Their Space Ship, 1961
  • Tinker and Tanker and the Pirates, 1961
  • Good Night, Little Bear, 1961
  • The Country Mouse and The City Mouse, 1961
  • The Hickory Dickory Clock Book, 1961
  • Tommy Visits the Doctor, 1962
  • My Little Golden Book of Manners, 1962
  • Manners, 1962
  • What Animals Do, 1963
  • A Tinker and Tanker Coloring Book, 1963
  • I Am a Bunny, 1963, (ISBN 0-307-12125-9)
  • Chipmunk's ABC, 1963
  • The Rooster Struts, 1963
  • Best Word Book Ever (ISBN 0-307-15510-2), first published 1963, reprinted 1970, "new revised edition" 1980
  • Tinker and Tanker, Knights of the Round Table, 1963
  • Tinker and Tanker in Africa, 1963
  • Polite Elephant, 1964
  • Is This the House of Mistress Mouse? (ISBN 0-307-12029-5), 1964
  • Feed the Hippo His ABC's, 1964
  • Animal Mother Goose, 1964
  • Best Nursery Rhymes Ever, 1964
  • Busy, Busy World, 1965
  • Teeny Tiny Tales, 1965
  • The Santa Claus Book, 1965
  • The Bunny Book, 1965
  • Planes, 1967
  • Trains, 1967
  • Boats (ISBN 0-307-11537-2), 1967
  • Cars, 1967
  • Egg in the Hole Book, 1967
  • Best Story Book Ever (ISBN 0-307-16548-5), 1967
  • What Do People Do All Day? (ISBN 0-394-81823-7), 1968
  • The Early Bird (ISBN 0-394-81138-0), 1968
  • What Animals Do, 1968
  • Storybook Dictionary: A Giant Golden Book, 1968, reprinted 1987
  • The Great Pie Robbery, 1969
  • The Supermarket Mystery, 1969
    (The above two were combined in the omnibus Great Big Mystery Book (ISBN 0-00-138143-1), also 1969.)
  • Great Big Schoolhouse (ISBN 0-00-138150-4), 1969
  • Great Big Air Book (ISBN 0-394-92167-4), 1971
  • Best Stories Ever, 1971
  • ABC Word Book (ISBN 978-0-394-82339-3 ISBN 978-1-4027-7221-4), 1971
  • Look and Learn Library, 1971 (4 Vols.)
  • Hop Aboard! Here We Go! (ISBN 0-307-13756-2, ISBN 978-0-307-13756-2), 1972
  • Funniest Storybook Ever (ISBN 0-00-138145-8), 1972
  • Nicky Goes to the Doctor, 1972
  • Best Counting Book Ever, 1973
  • Silly Stories, 1973
  • Babykins and His Family, 1973

Random House

  • Find Your ABC's, 1973
  • Please and Thank You Book (ISBN 0-394-82681-7), 1973
  • Cars and Trucks and Things That Go (ISBN 0-307-15785-7), 1974
  • Best Rainy Day Book Ever, 1974
  • European Word Book, 1974

Golden Books

  • Animal Nursery Tales (ISBN 978-0-307-66810-3), 1975
  • Great Steamboat Mystery, 1975
  • Best Counting Book Ever, 1975

Random House

  • Busiest People Ever (ISBN 0-00-711151-7), 1976
  • Favorite Storybook, 1976
  • Busy Town, Busy People, 1976
  • Storytime, 1976
  • Look-Look Books, 1976 (10 Vols.)
  • Early Words, 1976
  • Color Book, 1976
  • Laugh and Learn Library, 1976 (4 Vols.)
  • Picture Dictionary, 1976
  • Teeny Tiny ABC, 1976
  • Learn to Count, 1976
  • Lowly Worm Story Book, 1977
  • Busy, Busy Word Book, 1977
  • Best Make-It Book Ever, 1977
  • Busy-Busy Counting Book, 1977
  • Postman Pig and His Busy Neighbors, 1978
  • Toy Book, 1978
  • Bedtime Stories, 1978
  • Stories to Color, 1978
  • Little Word Book, 1978
  • Punch-Out Toy Book, 1978
  • Things to Learn, 1978
  • Little ABC, 1978
  • Best First Book Ever, 1979
  • Tinker and Tanker and Tales of Pirates and Knights, 1979
  • To Market, To Market, 1979
  • Holiday Book, 1979
  • Work and Play Book, 1979
  • Mix and Match Storybook, 1979
  • Huckle's Book, 1979
  • Busytown Pop-Up Book, 1979
  • Can You Count?, 1979
  • Lowly Worm Things on Wheels, 1979
  • Peasant Pig and the Terrible Dragon (ISBN 0-394-84567-6), 1980
  • Christmas Mice, 1981
  • Best Christmas Book Ever (ISBN 0-394-94936-6, ISBN 978-0-394-94936-9), 1981
  • Busy Houses, 1981
  • Four Busy Word Books, 1982
  • Busytown Shape Book, 1982
  • Sticker Books, 1982 (3 Vols.)
  • Lowly Worm Cars and Trucks Book, 1983
  • Lowly Worm Bath Book, 1984
  • The Best Mistake Ever! and Other Stories: A Sequel to The Early Bird/The Best Mistake Ever! and Other Stories, 1984 (Early Moments)
  • Best Bumper Book Ever, 1984
  • Pig Will and Pig Won't: A Book of Manners (ISBN 0-679-86653-1), 1984
  • Busy Fun and Learn Book, 1984
  • Biggest Word Book Ever! (ISBN 0-394-87374-2), 1985
  • My First Word Book, 1986
  • Big and Little, 1986
  • Best Workbooks Ever! (FUN With Letters), 1986 (4 Vols.)
  • Best Workbooks Ever! (FUN With Numbers), 1986 (3 Vols.)
  • My First Word Book, 1986
  • Best Music Book Ever, 1987
  • Things That Go, 1987
  • Things to Love, 1987
  • Busy Workers, 1987
  • Lowly Worm's Schoolbag, 1987 (4 Vols.)
  • Getting Ready for School, 1987 (4 Vols.)
  • Going Places on the Water, 1987 (4 Vols.)
  • Learning How Sticker Book, 1988
  • Giant Coloring Book, 1988
  • Busy Busy Sticker Book, 1988
  • Best Times Ever, 1988
  • Activity Book, 1988
  • Best Bedtime Book Ever, 1988
  • Best Read and Learn Book Ever, 1988
  • Biggest First Book Ever, 1988
  • Busy, Busy World (ISBN 0-307-65539-3), 1988
  • Dr. Doctor, 1988
  • Farmer Patrick Pig, 1988
  • Frances Fix-It, 1988
  • Harry and Larry the Fishermen, 1988
  • Play Day, 1988
  • Smokey the Fireman, 1988

Golden Books

  • Sniff the Detective, 1988
  • Splish Splash Sounds, 1988
  • All About Cars, 1989
  • Best Friend Ever, 1989
  • Best Ride Ever, 1989
  • Best Two-Minute Stories Ever!, 1989
  • Mother Goose Scratch and Sniff Book, 1989
  • Best Ever, 1989
  • Tinker and Tanker Storybook, 1989
  • Welcome to Scarrytown, 1989

Random House

  • Best Puzzle Word Book Ever, 1989
  • Just Right Word Book, 1990
  • Counting Book, 1990
  • Be Careful, Mr Frumble, 1990
  • Best Read It Yourself Book Ever, 1990
  • Best Story Book Ever, 1991
  • ABC's, 1991
  • Watch Your Step, Mr. Rabbit!, 1991
  • Best Year Ever, 1991
  • The Cat Family Takes a Trip, 1991
  • The Cat Family's Busy Day, 1991
  • Mr. Frumble's Worst Day Ever, 1991
  • Sergeant Murphy's Busiest Day Ever!, 1992
  • Best Fairytales Ever, 1992
  • Best Little Word Book Ever, 1992
  • Biggest Pop-Up Book Ever!, 1992
  • Bananas Gorilla, 1992
  • Huckle Cat's Busiest Day Ever, 1992
  • Mr. Fix-It: Richard Scarry's Smallest Pop-Up Book Ever!, 1992
  • Mr. Frumble: Richard Scarry's Smallest Pop-Up Book Ever!, 1992
  • Biggest Make-It Book Ever, 1993
  • Colors, 1993
  • Word Book With Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm, 1993
  • First Words, 1993
  • Story Book, 1993
  • Pie Rats Ahoy! (B-Extra 10), 1994 (Early Moments)
  • Busy, Busy Town (ISBN 0-307-16803-4), 1994 (Posthumous)
  • Longest Book Ever! (ISBN 0-689-80134-3), 1995 (Posthumous)

Many of these titles are preceded by his name ("Richard Scarry's ..."), and may be so listed in library and booksellers' databases. Some (including Pie Rats Ahoy! and Best Mistake Ever!) were published under the Beginner Books imprint, and others (The Early Bird, Funniest Storybook Ever, Busiest People Ever, Best Story Book Ever, Animal Nursery Tales, Storybook Dictionary, Biggest Word Book Ever!) as Bright and Early Books, although all are targeted at beginning readers. Scarry also illustrated a 1963 edition of The Fables of La Fontaine, and in 1993 put his own stamp on a series of familiar nursery stories (Little Red Riding Hood, The Little Red Hen, The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs).

Stories made to video

Golden Book Videos:

  • The Gingerbread Man and Other Nursery Stories (Golden Book 1986)[10]
  • Old MacDonald's Farm and Other Animal Tales (Golden Book 1986)[11]
  • Get Ready for School (Golden Step Ahead 1986, 1991)[12]

Random House Videos: (by 2006 these were taken out of print)

Richard Scarry's:

  • Best ABC Video Ever! (Random House 1989)[13]
  • Best Counting Video Ever! (Random House 1989)[14]
  • Best Busy People Video Ever! (Random House 1993)[15]
  • Best Learning Songs Video Ever! (Random House 1993)[16]
  • Best Silly Stories and Songs Video Ever! (Random House 1994)[17]
  • Best Sing-Along Mother Goose Video Ever! (Random House 1994)[18]
  • Family Feature Starring The Busytown Friends! (Random House 1999)

Children's Book-of-the-Month Club Videos:

Richard Scarry's:

  • Best Busy People Plus Silly Stories and Songs Video Ever! (Random House 1999)
  • Best Sing-Along Mother Goose Plus Learning Songs Video Ever! (Random House 1999)

Sony Wonder Videos:

The Busy World of Richard Scarry:

  • The Talking Bread and 5 other stories (Cinar 1993)

PolyGram Videos:

The Busy World of Richard Scarry:

  • The Best Birthday Present Ever and 2 other stories (Cinar 1995)
  • Sergeant Murphy's Day Off and 2 other stories (Cinar 1995)
  • The Busiest Firefighters Ever and 2 other stories (Cinar 1995)
  • Mr. Frumble's New Cars and 2 other stories (Cinar 1995)
  • The Best of the Busy World of Richard Scarry (Cinar 1995)
  • The Snowstorm and 2 other stories (Cinar 1996)
  • A Trip To The Moon and 2 other stories (Cinar 1996)
  • Summer Picnic and 2 other stories (Cinar 1996)
  • The Best Babysitter Ever and 2 other stories (Cinar 1996)
  • Sally's First Day At School and 2 other stories (Cinar 1996)
  • New Friend On The Block and 2 other stories (Cinar 1996)

Richard Scarry's:

  • The Best Christmas Present Ever and 2 other stories (Cinar 1996)
  • The Best Birthday Party Ever and 2 other stories (Cinar 1997)
  • Now I Know My 123's and 2 other stories (Cinar 1997)
  • The Best Spelling Bee Ever and 2 other stories (Cinar 1997)
  • The Best Christmas Surprise Ever and 2 other stories (Cinar 1997)
  • Be My Valentine and 2 other stories (Cinar 1998)
  • The First Easter Egg Ever and 2 other stories (Cinar 1998)
  • Practice Makes Perfect and 2 other stories (Cinar 1998)
  • Making Progress and 2 other stories (Cinar 1998)
  • The First Halloween Ever and 2 other stories (Cinar 1998)

NCircle Entertainment Videos:

Busytown Mysteries:

  • A Pickle of a Pickle in Busytown (NCircle 2010)
  • The Mysterious Mysteries Of Busytown (NCircle 2010)

Hurray for Huckle:

  • Zooming Around Busytown (NCircle 2010)


External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes