At least two generations have grown up scouring the pages of Richard Scarry books for new things, and finding them each and every time. A master of visual stories, Richard Scarry, born June 5th, 1919, once said that he created not only for the child, but also “for the parent, teacher or babysitter who has to read and reread these books over and over.”
His training included Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts School (1939-1942) and drawing maps and graphics for the US Army from 1941-1946 as well as freelance work after the war years.
Have you ever heard of Smokey the Bear? Before he was an American icon for fire safety, Scarry created his visual personification in Jane Werner’s book of that same name.
His first book as both author and illustrator was The Best Word Book Ever (1963), which influenced the pattern of the rest of his career. “Wherever I go,” he was fond of saying, “I’m watching. Even on vacation when I’m in an airport or a railroad station, I look around, snap pictures, and find out how people do things. Someday it will all show up in a book.” (from The Busy, Busy World of Richard Scarry by Walter Retan and Ole Risom,1997).
Scarry considered himself a fun-man disguised as an educator. “Everything has an educational value if you look for it. But it’s the fun I want to get across.” It seems he managed to leave that legacy behind in his over 300 published works. Richard Scarry died in 1994.