Richard Scarry Returns
2021: over 100 years since Richard Scarry was born and over 50 years since he started writing and illustrating books for children, Faber Books are republishing four of his very best. Children and adults alike will find so much to enjoy in these books – we certainly did! Richard Scarry began his published career in 1949 and went on to create over 250 books which together sold over 150 million copies around the globe! But by far his most famous books are those featuring the characters from Busytown. It is these books that are now being reissued.
Beginning with Richard Scarry’s ABC Word Book, let us take a trip through Busytown, meet some of the characters and share in a sample of their adventures. Learning the alphabet has never been so much fun; even here in Armadillo HQ we have learnt some new words! We have also pondered the difference between the language children were expected to know and understand back in the 1970s as well as today. Compared to the simplicity of many of today’s ABC word books, this is a unique and intelligent way for children to learn their alphabet. Scarry does not limit his choice to words that begin with the letter in question; he chooses words that contain the letter, showing the reader how a letter works with and complements the letters it sits with. In the process he has delivered some wonderful tongue twisters, too!
Be prepared though: this will not be a speedy journey through the alphabet. There is too much to enjoy reading aloud, sounding out and exploring within each letter - and of course there are the illustrations to enjoy, too. Meet some of the characters who will appear in the Busytown books, along with their locations and activities, and begin to piece together some stories. This is so much more than an alphabet book …
“At the airport a plane is about to land all alone. The aviator is landing by parachute.”
“The queen is playing croquet with her friends. They seem to be quarrelling. Please! Let’s be quiet!”
“The weather is wild and windy. The whole town is blowing away.”
Now, having mastered your alphabet and got your tongue around a few twisters, it is time to travel back in time - to the days of old, to the days when bold knights were daring, when Peasant Pig, Lowly Worm and Jolly Jester have to rescue Princess Lily from the Terrible Dragon. And so to Richard Scarry’s Peasant Pig and the Terrible Dragon. Whether you are a bold knight in shining armour or a modern-day princess, the castles and grape-presses which inspired this joyous story will delight. Remember to look out for some of the extra details in the pictures too, who knows what you may spot going on!
Busylande is full of activity: from banquets in the castle to work in the fields, the odd slip up in the kitchen to some grape-pressing, from jousts to fetes, there is so much to see and do. But will you be brave enough to help rescue the princess? Can you step in when the knights have got themselves in a muddle? Enjoy the story, delight in all the mishaps and immerse yourself in a hilarious version of a middle-ages tale of knights, princesses and heroism.
Perhaps you would like to know more about Busytown throughout the year? It is certainly a busy one! We discover in Richard Scarry’s Best Busy Year Ever that Spring brings with it warm days and blooming flowers… as well as parties where there are dances around the maypole, gardens to tend to, house moves and, amongst it all, plenty of traditional games for the children to play. With the Summer comes hot days and plenty of time for messing about in boats, family picnics and even flights on jet planes! In Autumn, it is back to school for lots of learning - but we also see the seasons change and new feasts consumed. Come Winter and the first falls of snow. These are the days of keeping snuggled up and warm - and perhaps getting ready for Christmas, too? Enjoy a journey through the seasons with these delightful characters and their exploits, maybe thinking about how you mark the changes of the year wherever you are too.
Finally, we have an opportunity to share in The Adventures of Lowly Worm. Delve into this collection of stories and find out why Lowly is such a widely loved character. Nothing stops him from having fun, helping friends or trying out something new. Trying out the rides at the fairground with his balloon safely tied around his waist, Lowly is not expecting an impromptu adventure in a hot air balloon after the wind takes him for an extra ride! There are lessons on not wasting anything, building a driftwood castle, fascinating facts from the Museum and many more mini stories to share and enjoy in this collection. On every page there is so much to see and discuss. This is a book that will educate and entertain for a very long time (and not just for the children)!
Not only do these books speak to the children they were written for, but also to the adults who may well read along with them. Questions are sure to arise that need answering and I am quite certain that all readers, whoever they are, will fall in love with these classic, timeless books. Packed with warmth, crazy humour and bold illustration, these books will open children’s eyes to the world around them and to a wider world of stories. Essential and entrancing.