Spark and All: FIAR - Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon (Purple Crayon Books)


Harold and the Purple Crayon story pattern ideas.

Harold and the Purple Crayon is not a fantasy. It is a nightmare. As in the parody illustration below (for a t-shirt created by Lucky in 1988 for ), Harold has been devoured by the world of his own imagination, because he lacks the meta-awareness to realize that he too is a drawing, although a drawing of a different color. The purple crayon is broken. Harold, a drawing, is no longer able to make his own world and thus continue his existence. The rest is silence.

But Harold has not found his way out of the world of his drawings. Unlike Max from Where the Wild Things Are, he has not found his way out of his imagination to his real home or his parents. “The purple crayon dropped on the floor. And Harold dropped off to sleep.” The next page is blank; Harold has vanished, along with his world. A happy ending? Not if you carry through the metafictional reading to its logical conclusion.

Harold the Purple Crayon...class book and activity

Harper, 1955
Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955)
       "One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight." So begins the first of Johnson's books about Harold and his purple crayon, and then off he goes, using the crayon to draw a moon and a path to walk on. Leaving the path, he draws himself into a forest, ocean, and balloon, exploring until he's tired and must find his way to home and bed.
      By her own account, legendary children's book editor Ursula Nordstrom's "first reaction to Harold was so luke warm and unenthusiastic"; in a letter dated 15 December 1954, Ms. Nordstrom writes to Crockett Johnson, apologizing for her early impression. She says, "I think it is FINE, and the little changes you made are just perfect. Thanks for the part about the forest, and for all the other little touches" (Nordstrom 83-84). Nordstrom, the director of Harper's Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940 to 1973, edited Harold and many other classics, including The Carrot Seed, E. B. White's Charlotte's Web, and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.

Title: Harold and the Purple Crayon (2001– )

When I was younger, Harold and the Purple Crayon frightened me. I was unnerved by the fact that there was nothing around but what Harold decided to draw, everything seemed so empty, and Harold, so alone. Over the years I kept coming back to the book though, despite the fact it threw me off a bit I was intensely curious about it, and I began to grow quite fond of it. Now, instead of seeing it as just an interesting and incredibly unique tale, I saw it for what it really was-a story that reminds us to forget about the boundaries of reality we place on ourselves every day, and learn to appreciate drawing our own paths, instead of following the ones others have laid out for us.

Harold and the Purple Crayon is one of our favorite classic children’s books. We were inspired by the story to create these purple yarn art sculptures!