A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- For National Comic Book Day read Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud and Adventures in Cartooning by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost.
- Itâ€™s also National Museum Day, sponsored by the Smithsonian. There will be free admission to museums across the United States. Read Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman and How to Take Your Grandmother to the Museum by Lois Wyse and Molly Rose Goldman, illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay.
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic.
- In 1639, the first printing press in what will become the United States of America opened in Cambridge. Read The Printing Press by Milton Meltzer.
- On this day in 1957, United States Army troops integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Read Remember Little Rock by Paul Robert Walker, The Little Rock Nine by Marshall Poe, illustrated by Ellen Lindner, Cracking the Wall: The Struggles of the Little Rock Nine by Eileen Lucas, illustrated by Mark Anthony, and The Power of One: Daisy Bates and The Little Rock Nine by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindle Fradin.
- Happy birthday Cooper Edens (If Youâ€™re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow), Jim Murphy (An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793), James Ransome (Uncle Jedâ€™s Barbershop), and Andrea Davis Pinkney (Duke Ellington; Let It Shine).
September 25 has been designated National Comic Book Day. From Jennifer L. and Matthew Holmâ€™s Babymouse series to Jeff Kinneyâ€™s Wimpy Kid offerings, comic books (sometimes called graphic novels) have been the hottest publishing phenomena of the past few yearsâ€”including in books for children. Entire imprints, like First Second, have been established to explore what authors and illustrators can creatively accomplish in comicâ€™s unique blend of words and pictures.
But like everything under the sun that seems new, comic books and childrenâ€™s books go way back and include some of our most beloved classics, including HergĂ©â€™s Tintin series and the creations of comic-book genius Crockett Johnson. Johnson, the nom de plume of David Johnson Leisk, created the very popular Barnaby series.Â Married to childrenâ€™s book writer Ruth Krauss, he was eventually drawn into the childrenâ€™s book world. This comic book master fashioned two enduring classics, The Carrot Seed and Harold and the Purple Crayon.
Today Harold and the Purple Crayon has sold two million copies and has never gone out of print, but it failed to impress Johnsonâ€™s editor Ursula Nordstrom when she first saw it. â€śIt doesnâ€™t seem like a good childrenâ€™s book to me,â€ť the ever-frank Nordstrom quipped. But she admitted in the same letter that she might have turned down Tom Sawyer givenÂ the mood she was in that day. Looking at the book again, Nordstrom apologized for her initial unenthusiastic response and published the book in 1955.
In both his comic strips and childrenâ€™s books Johnson distilled figures and landscape to their bare essentials. Bald himself, he claimed he drew people without hair because it was easier. Harold sets out for a walk, and with a worn, stubby purple crayon draws an entire adventure and world for himselfâ€”including a picnic with the nine types of pie he loves best.
A celebration of the creative spirit and the power of imagination, Harold and the Purple Crayon has appealed to a legion of artists over the years. In Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Childrenâ€™s Book, both the grandfather of the American picture book, Maurice Sendak, and the father, Chris Van Allsburg, discuss the influences of this book on their work. As Sendak notes, the book â€śis just immense fun. Harold does exactly as he pleases.â€ť Van Allsburg states, â€śI believe that the empowerment of HaroldÂ appealed to me as a readerâ€”I loved the idea that I could be in control and create my own world.â€ť
So if you want to celebrate National Comic Book Day with a classic, pick up Harold and the Purple Crayon. The book naturally lends itself to activities such as drawing your own universe and eating at least one kind of pie.
Hereâ€™s a page from Harold and the Purple Crayon:
Originally posted September 25, 2011. Updated for .