One of my favourite books when I was very small was Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. The books was literally jam packed with images of different animal characters riding around in different types of vehicles, and it was the kind of book where you could spend ages looking at each individual page looking for funny little details that you might otherwise have missed.
One of the aspects of this book that I enjoyed the most was that whilst most of the vehicles depicted within it were very realistic, in so far as a cartoon style drawing can be considered realistic, some of them were just plain silly, like a car whose bodywork was in the shape of a crocodile or perhaps even more absurd, a pickle!
This book can be considered part of Richard Scarry’s invented world of Busytown, a fun place populated with Scarry’s unique style of animal characters, who tended to look quite rotund with little arms and legs and very little in the way of a neck. Busytown might have been bizarre in places, but again most of it was quite realistic in nature, making the books educational as well as fun for the young reader.
Richard Scarry was born in 1919 in Boston, where he attended the Museum of Fine Arts School. His first book was Two Little Miners, which was published by Little Golden Books in 1949, but arguably the book which cemented his future popularity was Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, which contained well over a thousand images of every day objects, all labeled with the name of the object. It was published in 1963, and over the next 12 years sold 7 million copies!
In the 1980s some of Scarry’s books were made into cartoons, most notably the books in his “Best Ever” series. In the 1990s Busytown also got the animated treatment, with the cartoon series The Busy World of Richard Scarry.
Richard Scarry died in 1994, aged 74. Over his career he published more than 300 books, selling over 100 million copies in total worldwide. His books have been translated into numerous languages, such was the popular appeal of his illustrative style.