A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Virginia Mueller (Monster Goes to School), Denys Cazet (The Perfect Pumpkin Pie), Sandra Olson Liatsos (Bicycle Riding), Karen Lynn Williams (Galimoto; Four Feet, Two Sandals), and Mike Wimmer (All the Places to Love).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Harry Devlin (1918â€“2001), The Cranberry Tales series.
- Also born on this day was Randolph Caldecott (1846â€“1886), The House that Jack Built. The prestigious Caldecott Medal bestowed annually by the American Library Association on the yearâ€™s most distinguished picture book is named his honor.
- In 1638, Anne Hutchinson is expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for religions dissent. Read Anne Hutchinsonâ€™s Way by Jeannine Atkins, illustrated by Michael Dooling.
Today has been designated International Goof-Off Dayâ€”a day to relax, be yourself, and avoid what you are supposed to do. If you are in the position to celebrate International Goof-Off Day, you first might want to read Tony Fucileâ€™s Letâ€™s Do Nothing for tips.
But I myself am happiest when working at something I like to do, and so is our hero of the day, Richard Scarry. Even his biography by Walter Retan and Ole Risom is entitled The Busy, Busy World of Richard Scarry. No one ever showed people working, doing things, or going places with such spirit and joie de vivre as Scarry. Born in Boston on June 5, 1919, Scarry thought like an artist even as a child. When his mother sent him to the store, he never wrote out a listâ€”he drew pictures of the items she wanted. Like Harriet the Spy, he carried a pad and pencil with him and drew feverishly. Although Scarryâ€™s father did not want his son to become an artist, Richard failed at everything else. Eventually, he headed to Bostonâ€™s Museum of Fine Arts art school for the training he so desperately wanted.
After his service in World War II, he came to New York and established himself as a freelance artist. Scarry got his first big break a couple of years later when he attracted the attention of Lucille Ogle at the Artists and Writers Guild. A publishing legend known for her hats, Ogle served as the creative force behind Golden Books. Printed in huge numbers, distributed in grocery stores, and priced at a quarter, the Golden Books franchise had already sold thirty-nine million copies by the time Ogle looked at Scarryâ€™s portfolio. Ogle signed Scarry up for a one-year exclusive contract that paid him $400 a month. Although he quickly became one of Goldenâ€™s best-selling authors, he never received royalties on his books until 1956. He got them because he finally asked for them!
From the 1950s on, Scarryâ€™s books became a staple of preschool and picture book collections. In books like Richard Scarryâ€™s Busy, Busy Town, he celebrates the work and activities of animals who like to do things. Certainly the book contains some great lines: â€śThe best writers write childrenâ€™s booksâ€¦.The best librarians are childrenâ€™s book librarians.â€ť With a vibrant and strong black line, Scarry filled every inch of his double-page spreads with activity, action, and humor; children can pour over the drawings for hours and then go back the next day and see different details. Scarry always used animal characters because he wanted all children, no matter what they looked like, to be able to identify with the figures in his booksâ€”children have by the millions.
If youÂ pick up Busy, Busy Townâ€”or Cars and Trucks and Things That Go or What Do People Do All Day?â€”today, you will feel like you are working, even if you arenâ€™t. Iâ€™m just gratefulÂ that Richard Scarry makes work and action seem so tantalizing to children and to adults. In his books it looks like a lot more fun to do something youÂ enjoy — than to goof-off.
Originally posted March 22, 2011. Updated for .