Thursday 9 August 2012

The Adventures of Harold and The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Today's mega-review filled me with a bucketload of nostalgia and simultaneously made me a completely gushy proud parent. I took a chance on ordering "The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon" from an Amazon reseller. It's one of those 'lost books' I absolutely adored as a kid, and couldn't believe would be still on sale (You can buy the 'proper' Harold books new on Amazon btw, but this is a rolled up combination of four of the best of Crockett Johnson's originals, not to be confused with the rather poor knock-offs that appeared in the early noughties!)

So rather than listen to me waffle on about how fantastic this book is, I'll let Charlotte guide you through with a pictorial guide to Harold's world...

Harold is a young lad with a magic crayon, able to draw the world around him as he sees fit. In Harold's first adventure (and Charlotte's) - the world starts with a huge purple scribble!

Harold draws a path, and the all-important moon to guide him on his moonlit walk.

(Yes that's the moon, as drawn by Charlotte, there in the corner of a rather large roll of lining paper. Good tip for parents, if you want solid and cheap paper that's able to take a lot of abuse from poster paints, water colours or purple crayons, lining paper is absolutely brilliant. It does help if you've got a pet Dodo who happens to be the best Painter and Decorator in the biz who can get the stuff for you, but it's fairly cheap from most DIY stores too!)

Harold's Journey (and Charlotte's) continues and soon they reach a part of the world where a forest ought to be. To avoid getting lost, Charlotte draws a single tree. An apple tree with lovely purple apples!

They're not quite ripe yet, so she needs to come up with something to protect the tree..! What could it be?

A Dragon! Of course, a dragon, a rather fierce dragon at that - with large gnashing sharp teeth! EEK!

The dragon makes Harold's crayon hand shake and before he knows it, he's up to his neck in the sea.

Quick thinking Harold (and quick thinking Charlotte) quickly draws a trim little boat, the perfect way to escape that scary dragon!

Setting sail for distant lands Harold (and his trusty cohort Charlotte) soon make land, and fetch up on a charming little beach.

It's the perfect spot for a picnic, and so it's time to draw something tasty and nutritious to eat.

9 pies ought to do it..!

Not even the hungriest boy (or girl!) in the world can quite finish off 9 pies. So it's time to draw some animal friends to help out with the picnic leftovers.

How about...a moose! Yep a moose with big antlers, and a tiny little porcupine with a big tummy. That should do the trick!

Nicely fed and watered, it's time for Harold (and Charlotte) to move on but they're both feeling a bit tired and missing home.

They draw a big hill which turns into a big mountain. Losing their footing, Harold and Charlotte tumble to the bottom but save themselves just at the right moment with a timely drawing of a balloon.

Soon the balloon lands in the garden of a familiar looking house but it's not home, just a house. Awww.

Charlotte and Harold rather like drawing houses though, so they draw a few more windows, doors, towers and soon a huge city.

They're lost! Too many windows to look at, too many buildings to get lost amongst so what do they do? When you're lost, ask a policeman for help and he'll happily point the way.

This policeman's a rather jolly chap but seems to have lost his hat.

Eventually Harold (and Charlotte), tired and weary from a day's drawing, find home.

Home, and Harold's window, is always around the moon after all. Tired Charlotte (and Harold) draw up a bed, draw the curtains, draw up the covers and it's time for sleep. ZZZZZ!

(Shhhh everyone, sleeping child - only pretending!)

Quite amazing what you can do with a magic purple crayon, a large roll of lining paper and a cute sidekick, eh Harold?

Can't tell you how much fun we had doing this and how two hours passed by in the blink of an eye while we read the book, drew the pictures and told the story.

As I said at the top of the review, definitely search out Crockett Johnson's original "Harold" stories (the new ones are full colour, and don't quite capture the simplicity, the child-friendliness and the all important simple purple crayon drawings of the original). Basically, if it 'aint Crockett, it 'aint Harold :)

This compilation features the following stories: 

1) Harold and the Purple Crayon
2) Harold's Fairy Tale
3) Harold's Trip to the Sky
4) Harold at the Circus

Charlotte's best bit: The fierce dragon, of course!

Daddy's favourite bit: Naming 9 types of pie off the top of my head for the picnic scene (Is chocolate available in pie form? It is now!)

Rating: A thoroughly well deserved 5 out of 5 stars, Book of the Week

Edit: This is great animation of the original book. Superb!