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Harold’s Purple Crayon Adventures – Crockett Johnson

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One evening, Harold appeared on the scene at bedtime. The moon was shining in his imagination and the powerful purple crayon was at hand. He needed a memorable adventure so he got right to work.

Harold and the Purple Crayon is the first of the Crockett Johnson books to delight children and the grown-ups who love to read to them. In fact, those purple crayons are a guilty pleasure that can be indulged even when child-camouflage is nowhere to be found. Harold wastes no time on the concept of impossible. He quickly sketches what he requires and sets out to conquer the world. His trusty purple crayon holds the potent magic of his belief.

The nighttime journeys are always moonlit and daring. Harold encounters a tree that bursts into apples, which he thinks will be very tasty once they are red. As they are presently purple, he invents a terribly frightening dragon to guard them as they ripen. His trembling crayon lands him in an ocean of rippling waves and, due to his fast thinking, he is able to haul himself into a handy boat and sail away. The first tale is crammed with nine kinds of favorite pie, a deserving porcupine, a hot air balloon ride, mountain climbing, perilous drops and a comforting bedroom window to frame that moon for a tired traveler.

Naturally, the initial taste of adventure leads to many more. Harold slips from the high wire at the circus (Harold’s Circus) and lands on an elephant’s trunk. He avoids embarrassment by donning a clown’s hat and a big purple smile, tames a lion and shoots himself out of a cannon. At the North Pole, Harold rescues Santa from an avalanche that seems to have buried his workshop, lines up the correct number of reindeer, stuffs an enormous sack with toys, finds the perfect Christmas tree and tops it with a crescent moon. (Harold’s Trip to the North Pole) He discovers that a purple crayon is just the thing for warding off monsters and Martians in Harold’s Trip to the Sky and has a few more escapades in the series before that crayon wears down to a nub.

Imagination is a very trendy topic these days, as educators, politicians, C-suite types and pundits debate the flatline produced by our school systems and search for innovative ways to inspire original thinking. They might open a couple of the Harold books, grab a purple crayon, drop a few pretensions and preconceptions and set out into the unknown—illuminated, of course, by a waxing moon so that they won’t see things in the dark.

Harold and the Purple Crayon 50th Anniversary Edition (Purple Crayon Books)   Crockett Johnson | HarperCollins