Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Google Doodle Honors 92nd Birthday of 'Busytown' Creator Richard Scarry
Google's Sunday homepage doodle honors what would have been the 92nd birthday of childrens' book author Richard Scarry.
The doodle features a scene from "Busytown," a fictional world created by Scarry, which is inhabited by well-known characters like Postman Pig, Huckle Cat, Sergeant Murphy, and Lowly Worm. Click through the main doodle, and the smaller homepage doodle on the top left replaces the "l" in Google with Lowly Worm.
Scarry was born in Boston in 1919, and his comfortable childhood is reflected in the more than 300 books he produced during his life, according to a biography published by Sterling Children's Book. He attended the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, but was later drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II. He was sent to North Africa, where he was the art director, editor, writer and illustrator in the Morale Services Section of Allied Forces HQ.
Scarry worked at various magazines after the war, but also pursued freelance work as an illustrator; he drew the pictures that went alongside the text for childrens' books. His first book, "Great Big Car and Truck Book," was published in 1951 by Little Golden Books. Simon and Schuster published five more that same year.
Scarry's first best seller, however, came in 1963 with "Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever." The book featured pages chock full of items for young children to discover; more than 1,400 in all.
Scarry is known for books featuring anthropomorphic animals living in the fictional Busytown. As he explained to Publishers Weekly, "children can identify more closely with pictures of animals than they can with pictures of another child. They see an illustration of a blond girl or a dark-haired boy, who they know is somebody other than themselves, and competition creeps in. With imagination—and children all have marvelous imagination—they can easily identify with an anteater who is a painter or a pig who transforms from peasant to knight."
Scarry's characters have not been confined to books. The "Best Ever" series was made into animated videos. The world of Busytown was also made into an animated series, "The Busy World of Richard Scarry," which ran on Nick. Jr. from 1995 to 2000.
Scarry and his family re-located to Gstaad, Switzerland in 1972, where Scarry worked until his death in 1994. His books have sold over 200 million copies in 30 languages.
Recently, it was revealed that Google obtained a patent for its popular homepage doodles, covering "systems and methods for enticing users to access a Web site."
California second grader Matteo Lopez was recently selected as the winner of this year's Doodle 4 Google competition. His space-themed doodle was featured on the Google homepage on May 20, and he took home a $15,000 college scholarship and a $25,000 technology grant for his school.
For more on Google's doodles, see the slideshow below.