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Literature / Harold and the Purple Crayon

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Harold and the Purple Crayon is an illustrated children’s book first published in 1955 by Crockett Johnson. The story follows Harold as he wanders around drawing his own reality with his purple crayon and trying to get home.

Harold is colored in with a blue jumpsuit and Caucasian skin. Everything else in the story is purple, since it was drawn with the crayon; this lets the reader see that Harold is somehow more real than everything else.

It has received several sequels, and also been adapted into a series of children's animated shorts, as well as an animated series on HBO (produced by Sony Pictures Television). The series is completely available on DVD, so no need to hunt hard for it.

A film was in the works, with Sony returning from the series (albeit moving from Adelaide Productions to Sony Pictures Animation) and co-producing with Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment unit. No, really. However, nothing has been heard from it since it was announced in 2010.

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The book is aimed at young children, ages 3 to 7, but it’s a good quick read for adults.


This book provides examples of:

  • Reality Warper: Harold can bend his created world to his wants.
  • Short Runner: The animated TV series on HBO Family only lasted 13 episodes.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Played straight and subverted in the episode "Blast From the Past". We have a titanosaur as the main large sauropod Harold searches for, a Pteranodon mother and her baby who accompanies Harold, a Triceratops who serves as the only "mean" dinosaur, and a herd consisting of Stegosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Centrosaurus, Ouranosaurus (or maybe Edaphosaurus), Camptosaurus, and a generic smaller sauropod. Surprisingly, Tyrannosaurus rex only appears as a couple cameos.
  • Weird Moon: Always accompanies Harold in his adventures.

Alternative Title(s): Harold And The Purple Crayon

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