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VINE VOICEon February 16, 2002
Yes, I am a 45 year old man writing a review for a children's book, and, no, I do not think that I ought to be ashamed of myself. A short while ago I stumbled upon a copy of this book by accident and I could't believe the flood of warm and pleasant memories that it brought back. This was perhaps my favorite childhood book, along with the sequels. Maybe this was because from my earliest memories I always wanted to be an artist, and that is what Harold was, an artist with a magic purple crayon. He was more than an artist, he was a creator of worlds. That was important, he wasn't presented as a trivial person doing "art", he was the creative force behind whole new worlds. Or "co-creator", for he often seemed as surprised as the reader at what flowed out of that crayon. While I didn't become an artist, I did work for most of my life as a draftsman and designer. I've seen many, many things in the real world start life as a drawing on my board or computer screen. I think that I kept faith with Harold....
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on April 29, 2006
This splendid little book starts with the protagonist, Harold, "...thinking it over for some time" and deciding to go for a walk in the moonlight.

This may seem unremarkable, but it is not.

There is no moon. There is nothing to walk on. There is nowhere to go.

For the only things that are real are Harold and the purple crayon. Otherwise, the universe in which he finds himself is apparently empty; nothing else is present. But what does nothing look like? It looks like nothing - a blank sheet of paper. But that kind of nothing is just exactly what is needed when what one is holding in one's hand is a purple crayon. And so the adventure gets underway.

The first thing Harold does on setting out is draw a horizontal line.

This may seem unimportant, but it is not.

For what he has drawn is the horizon, and this means that now he is standing on the ground. He can walk on it too...

Next he draws the moon (necessary if the walk is indeed to be in the moonlight). Harold draws it above the horizon - this means that it is in the sky. Now there is a reference point for height, and a world of three dimensions has come into being.

Off he goes, drawing a path, a forest (with only one tree so he won't get lost in it) and a dragon to guard the apples that are growing in the tree. Here the creator encounters unintended consequences, as the dragon that he has wrought is so fearsome as to frighten even him. Harold backs away, his hand shaking, inadvertently drawing a wavy line as he goes.

The wavy line traces out waves, and before he knows it, Harold is underwater in an ocean. He rescues himself by drawing a boat and makes his way to an unknown distant shore.

The rest of the story is about Harold's trying to find his way back home. On the way there are more adventures as Harold searches far and wide. He creates an entire city with many windows but none of them is his.

But then, he remembers how he used to see the moon through the window of his room. And all that is needed for homecoming is to draw a box around the moon - now he is inside looking out.

As Harold draws his bed around him and goes to sleep, I found myself pondering what's real and what is not, and reflecting on those moments when we wonder where we really are and how we ever got to be here.
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on May 5, 2000
I read this book when I borrowed it from the library in my elementary school. I am now 18, and still reminisce on my beloved journeys around the world in a hot air balloon with Harold. This is the book that I borrowed for the first time, and then got it later again and again. It is one of the first books that ever opened my mind up to the total loss of imagination to all possibilities. Every time I read it I would think of many more adventures Harold could have had with his mystical purple crayon. Even to this day, I can think of no better book to give a child's imagination a glimpse of what possibilities there are. It is easy reading for the youngest of believers, but gives thought of what could be to even the oldest readers. I personally was not a child who favored reading, but this book was one of the few that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was one that I would read in the library while the class was still in it, and then would bring home for further enjoyment. I cannot recommend this book higher for any child whose imagination can run wild.
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on April 4, 2003
Most people remember Harold and the Purple Crayon, and wont need to read reviews before buying this for their kids. If you somehow didn't read the Harold books when you were young, you will read many other reviews that say they are great books that have stood the test of time, I agree. The story is simple and easy to follow, the illustrations are equally simple, but the story grabs kids attention. There is something magical about Harold and his adventures, as he draws various things, they become real. It is the magic that sparkles in every child's mind, imagination. Harold is also plucky and resourceful, when he accidentally draws an ocean and falls in, or accidentally leaves a mountain unfinished and falls off, he doesn't panic, but thinks a way out and draws a boat and a hot air balloon to climb into. What a guy! The story is often humorous, a big plus with kids, but not overly so. It has a quiet and calm feel to it, and that combined with the fact that Harold gets tired and goes to bed in the end makes it a wonderful bedtime book. It is also great for young readers (probably Level 2), the words are for the most part short and not too hard. My daughter is a slow reader and has only been reading on her own for about 6 or 7 months and she read this with almost no help, I only had to guide her through a few difficult words. It is a lot of pages for a young reader, but since there is only one or two sentences per page, the story isn't that long. The book also appeals to a wide range of ages, it keeps the attention of my three year old, but doesn't seem like a baby book for my ten year old. I think it stems from the fact that, even though the story is so simple it never once talks down. Adults will also appreciate Harold, even those who don't look on him with fond memories. My husband had never read the book Harold and the Purple Crayon when he was young, after reading it for the first time he chuckled and said "What a great book." If you've never read it, buy it, I am sure you will agree!
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on March 7, 1998
I recently ran into the paperback version of this book and sent a copy to my brother - Harold - to read to his kids. I remembered reading it when we were kids. When he received it in the mail, he called to thank me and shared something very special. Harold is dyslexic and recalls that this book was one of the few he could read and relate to as a child. He is an electrical contractor and to this day, he ONLY uses a purple crayon on his jobs to mark electrical outlets and boxes. So - if your ever in Boulder,Co. and you happen to see a big blonde guy on a construction sight drawing outlets in purple - Well - that's Harold and his purple crayon.
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on October 2, 2008
I used to love reading this book to the kids, before the baby became a toddler (see below).

The drawings are clear. That little Harold is so darling -- all head and crayon and cuteness. The stories take Harold on adventures that always end safely at home in bed.

They are a fun way to imagine... what comes next? When we make up family stories, sometimes we try to find new directions to take a story, especially when one gets sidetracked (by silliness, grossness, etc. -- I have boys). These Harold stories do exactly the same thing: when Harold gets stuck, or nervous, or in danger, he just imagines his way out of it.

The books are very clever. The illustrations are basically line drawings, but they convey the story perfectly. I like this collection because it has 4 Harold stories together.

Anyway, my youngest went through a book-ripping phase about a year ago, so we put up all the books with pages and kept the board books down at his level. Somehow, Harold got misplaced. We got it out again this week, and to my joy, yesterday the 6-year old was reading it to the 3-year-old. They were laughing and giggling about the book, and I fell in love with the story all over again.

Awesome book.

***updated*** this book includes four stories:

Harold and the Purple Crayon
Harold's Fairy Tale
Harold's Trip to the Sky
Harold's Circus
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I won't bother going in to the story of Harold and the Purple Crayon, as I'm certain almost anybody considering this purchase grew up with the book at one time or another.

However, I did want to offer this suggestion to everyone: spend the extra money on the hardcover edition.

I may have set my expectations a bit high, but since the paperback price was relatively expensive (costing 30 - 50% more than comparable paperbacks) and touted as the 50th Anniversary Edition, I thought it would be "nice". However, I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with the construction quality.

Unless you're giving it to a teenager or adult as a keepsake type of gift, the paperback isn't going to stand up against an age-appropriate child, or to time itself. If I hadn't bought it as part of the 4-for-3 promotion, I'd almost certainly exchange it for the hardcover.
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on May 16, 2013
Harold and the purple crayon is a wonderful classic tale of imagination that I remember from my childhood. It is an excellent book to help children ponder the difference between reality and fantasy. One of the most magical parts of the book is how the pages turn in anticipation of what Harold will draw next. Timing and the sequential unfolding of the story is critical to the book's magic.

As such, the new board book version of Harold is a major distortion of the original magical book. Pages and words are combined and illustrations completely omitted compared to the original. As a result most of the magic is lost. I urge you to buy another version than this Board Book. I bought them as gifts and had to return them. If anyone can comment on how faithful the paperback version is to the original story, I would suggest purchasing that for now. This Board Book is NOT the same magical story.
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on December 15, 2010
I really liked "The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon" because it had adventures that I liked. I liked the designs that Harold drew on the wall, but I'm not allowed to draw on the wall. In the last chapter, Harold makes a circus that comes alive and he stands up on a rope and begins to fall and he tries to catch his balance. On the last page people are all around and give him a big hand of applause. He draws a lion without teeth then he sticks his head in the lion's mouth. Then he draws teeth. Then he draws monkey bar rings and he swings from ring to ring. He shoots out of a cannon. He draws a lemonade stand with a man selling lemonade. He draws a tall man and short guy. He draws a fat lady. He draws a clown. I will probably read the book again when I'm thirteen!
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on February 5, 2009
Crockett Johnson's allegorical retelling of Books 1-6 of Vergil's "Aeneid" is still as powerful today as when it was originally published in 1955. After being startled by a "dragon" guarding apples - a reference to the Achaian menace brought on by the Golden Apple of Discord - Harold/Aeneas is forced into an involuntary sea voyage, accompanied only by the moon (here a stand-in for his patroness/mother Venus). He lands in a pleasant country, and enjoys a seaside feast (the wealth and luxury of Carthage), accompanied by a "hungry moose" and a "deserving porcupine", allegories for Dido and her sister Anna. It is no accident that it is Anna who is the "deserving" one - Dido, who spurns Iarbas in favor of trying to divert Aeneas from his divine mission is satirized as thin and rapacious.
Abandoning these at their banquet of overabundance, Harold/Aeneas continues his journey. He tries to climb a mountain to help locate his objective (the land where he is destined to settle), but it is only after a plunge into an abyss that he can gain enlightenment. Here Johnson has replaced the Roman conception of the underworld with a more strikingly literal representation - there "wasn't any other side" of the mountain, merely a void. Finally sensing that he is near to his destination, he passes first by a false house and then an entire false city - obvious metaphors for the false destinations such as Sicily which tempt the Trojan settlers. Harold/Aeneas "asks a policeman" (King Latinus) for directions, but, as Aeneas is guided by divine destiny, Latinus merely directs him "the way he was going anyway". Vergil's theme that a divine origin - and the firm religious foundation built upon this - is the wellspring of Roman glory is well symbolized by the ending; the journey of Harold/Aeneas ends when he embraces "pietas" and the destiny placed upon him by Venus, and builds his "room" around her (thus establishing the Roman race).
Crockett Johnson's masterful interpretation of this theme through spartan monochrome illustrations offers a remarkable counterpoint to Vergil's ornate Latin verse. But the pinnacle of his creation lies in the titular instrument. It is no great exaggeration to say that Vergil's patron, Augustus, was at the time engaged in remaking Rome in his own image. The author's metaphor is dual - Harold is not merely Aeneas, founder of the Romans. He is Augustus, the fulfillment of the Aeneid's central prophecies, redrawing Rome with an imperial purple crayon.
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