Richard McClure Scarry is unquestionably one of the most-loved children’s authors of all time. He has written more than 300 books which have gone on to sell more than 150 million copies globally that have been translated into about 30 languages.
Scarry was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 5, 1919. His family owned a store and they were financially sound. Scarry enjoyed an environment full of joy, compassion and appreciation during his upbringing. He had joined a business college but soon decided against it and left. Richard Scarry then enrolled at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts School, finding it more to his liking. However, he had to leave to join the US Army for World War II. He was posted to North Africa to work as the editor, director, illustrator as well as writer of Art in the Morale Services Section of Allied Forces HQ.
When WWII had come to an end Scarry did various freelance works in the art section for quite a few magazines. Richard also did illustrations for authors of children’s books such as Patricia Murphy (his future wife), Margaret Wise Brown and Kathryn Jackson. In 1948 Scarry got married to Patricia Murphy – the children’s text book writer that he illustrated for.
Scarry’s career as an author and illustrator of children’s books picked up in the 1950’s when Little Golden Books began to publish his work. His initial works such as “Rabbit and His Friends,” and “Great Big Car and Truck Book”, got published in 1951. Simon and Schuster went on to publish more of his children stories. However, it was in 1963 that Scarry’s career really reached its peak with the publishing of “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever” that became his first best-seller ever!
“Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever” comprises of over 1400 items for children to gain knowledge from and even teaches essential ethics such as sharing and helping. It is filled with anthropomorphic animals (animals that possess human-like qualities) such as bears, cats, rabbits and numerous other animals inhabiting the pages. “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever” intends to amuse children at the same time as teaching them things like numbers and words. The best part is that it covers all sorts of subjects and gives international examples from countries such as Africa. It is an understatement to say that this book was a true blessing for both parents and children.
In 1965 Scarry’s “Busy Busy World” was published. In Busy Busy World the anthropomorphic animals travel to all parts of the world to places such as Algeria, Paris and Rome. Unfortunately Busy Busy World was not as well-received as he had originally hoped. On a brighter note, his “Storybook Dictionary” which was published in 1966 turned out to be highly successful.
Scarry‘s interest in animals is evident in the fact that he writes about them in most of his books. What is truly unique is how he managed to give human-like features and personalities to the animals he wrote about.
Many of Scarry’s work have been adapted into animated videos which can be found on VHS and DVD. His Busy Town books have also been converted into an animated show, “The Busy World of Richard Scarry”
He and his family moved to Gstaad, Switzerland in 1972 into a chalet. He often traveled with wife; Patricia Scarry, to places mentioned in “Busy, Busy World” such as the Far East and Africa. Although his eye sight had deteriorated in the 19880’s he managed to complete the drawing for his “Biggest World Book Ever” in 1985.
Scarry passed away on 30th April 1994 in Gstaad, Switzerland. His son continues his legacy and writes books for children as well.