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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 Johnsonnote . The story follows a little boy named 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 on the book's covernote , and in black-and-white in the story itself. 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 live-action film is 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, as The Other Wiki notes, news on the film has been sporadic since its initial announcement in 2010.

The books are aimed at children ages 3 to 8, but each one is a good quick read for adults.

Titles in the series:

  1. Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955)
  2. Harold's Fairy Tale (1956)
  3. Harold's Trip to the Sky (1957)
  4. Harold at the North Pole (1958)
  5. Harold's Circus (1959)
  6. A Picture for Harold's Room (1960)
  7. Harold's ABC (1963)

Harold and the Purple Crayon provides examples of:

  • Death by Newbery Medal: "I Remember Goldie", wherein Harold's fish Goldie dies and he learns about death.
  • Death Is a Sad Thing: Harold learns about death when his pet goldfish dies.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a series about a boy named Harold and his purple crayon.
  • The Faceless: Harold's mom in the animated series. The audience mainly got to see her hands; her body was seen once (from the back, so we can't see her face), she's a short-haired brunette woman with a red shirt.
  • Face of a Thug: The dragon who guards the apple tree has a menacing appearance that frightens Harold and his friends, but he later turns out to be a Gentle Giant.
  • Gentle Giant: The dragon guarding the apple tree looks scary, but is actually very friendly.
  • Heroic Mime: Harold. In some episodes of the HBO series, Harold would get to deliver one or two lines, but the narrator would still do most of the talking.
  • The Homeward Journey: In each of the books, Harold uses his crayon to go on adventures of his own invention, and then must use it to send him back home.
  • Reality Warper: Harold can bend his created world to his wants.
  • Short-Runner: The animated TV series on HBO Family only lasted 13 episodes.
  • Weird Moon: Always accompanies Harold in his adventures.

Alternative Title(s): Harold And The Purple Crayon