Harold and the Purple Crayon


“Wow,” you’re thinking, “she’s really going deep with this one!”  Well, laugh all you want, but Harold is one of my favorite characters, and it pains me that there are so many folks out there who have never even heard of him.  I will fix that right now!

Harold has been around since before I was born, which doesn’t quite mean I’m older than dirt.  He first flowed from the pen of Crockett Johnson in 1955.  He is a little pajama-clad boy who goes on amazing adventures with his purple crayon.  That fact right there could be a red flag to those of you with smaller children, but I must assure you that I never once felt the need to go and draw on the walls, floors, or furniture with any writing utensil after having read about him; neither has any of my four children.  (Well, one daughter had a propensity for illegal artwork, but it was not Harold-induced.)

When we first meet Harold, he decides to take a walk in the moonlight.  The only snag in that plan is that there is no moon!  Purple crayon to the rescue; Harold draws the moon, and follows it on a path to several adventures.  He is always thinking and considering his next move.  His path is very straight so he can’t get lost; he comes to a place where he thinks there should be a forest, but, again, he doesn’t want to get lost, so it’s a forest of one tree.  Quite analytical. As the evening progresses he scares himself with a dragon, nearly drowns in the ocean, goes for a  moonlight sail, and has a nice picnic of his nine favorite kinds of pie.  Harold cannot possibly eat nine whole pies, and he is not one to let things go to waste, so he very cleverly solves that problem, just as he does all of his other situations.


This is a very simple picture book that children of all ages will love.  Look at me!  I love it even today.  Harold gets himself into some precarious situations, but not in a way that would be scary for smaller children.  There are so many puns, and tongue-in-cheek statements, that older children and adults will love him too.  I chuckle to myself over the cleverness of Harold’s thoughts and actions.  And he IS clever, but not obnoxiously so.  There usually are no other humans in his stories, and he is not trying to be smarter than adults.  It’s just his 4-year-old imagination taking him on a journey.

In the Treasury Collection of Harold stories that I own, you can learn some new things, like:

A)  …you can drive a witch out of an enchanted garden with mosquitos

B)  ….witches are susceptible to being X’d out to be rid of them

C)  …should you ever meet an alien on Mars, you can delay him chasing you by putting a “completely damaging crack” in his spaceship

D)  …what could happen if you should ever be shot out of a cannon

A couple of years ago, I had the chance to enter the Edible Book contest at our library. Entrants  could use any book they liked as long as the entire creation was edible. I chose to use Harold.  It is easy to use fondant and Rice Krispie treats to mold Harold asleep in his room.  I was certain I would win in my category, but I got beat out by Alice in Wonderland.  Oh well!

harold cake

All of these fun facts make Harold a very endearing storybook character.  He gives us lessons in art, language usage, and punnery, and he’s just cute. The nicest lesson of all, though, is that no matter how many adventures you take, home is the best place to be.

If you love Harold already, good for you!  If you have never met Harold, I urge you to remedy the situation immediately, if not sooner.